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Gravitational Pulls

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It was the aspirational INDI Alliance that was brought together and positioned as the unifying force of the Opposition. After all the hullabaloo, it has mostly fallen apart even before becoming anything like a composite force. At the most, there have been a couple of tie-ups on a few seats in some states. Even these are not expected to survive the course of the coming elections.

On the other hand, gravitational forces are bringing together powerful players into the NDA through a more mature understanding of the political currents in India. Nitish Kumar succumbed as he worked out caste equations in Bihar. The BJD has always been inclined towards the BJP, ideologically, and has the Congress as the rival for its vote-bank. Chandrababu Naidu may not be the force he used to be in Andhra Pradesh, but he has a good record and is also a natural ally of the BJP. By coming together, the two are likely to pick up a higher percentage of votes.

There are also a number of small regional parties across the board representing locally dominant caste groups, who by themselves may not make an impact, but can prove crucial to an alliance. For a couple of seats here and there, they can provide a significant number of votes to the BJP. They have tried to join the opposition – such as with the SP in UP – but ‘dynastic and caste arrogance’ has got in the way. This is why otherwise little-known parties are moving into the BJP camp. The recent inclusions of such groups’ representatives in the UP Council of Ministers are indicative of what is happening. Only the BSP remains an outlier at the present, but could reach out to the BJP in hopes of getting a good deal. Even J&K can throw up some surprises, as also Congress defectors in states of the South.

A similar coalition of interests can emerge for the opposition in the southern states, where the Congress is still a player. However, if the force is to be with it, the alliance has to be intelligently put together, not a quality that has been witnessed thus far. It is easier said than done, because rivals at the local level will need to chart out a plan for the larger objective. In an environment where the BJP is trying to make breakthroughs, division of opposition votes could prove disastrous. But who will bell the cat?