Editorial March 13, 2024

Editorial March 13, 2024

Editorial March 13, 2024

Title: A tale of two: On alliance-building by BJP and Congress

After raising its stakes in the forthcoming general election by declaring a target of 400 seats along with allies, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is mopping up political partners across the country to resurrect the National Democratic Alliance (NDA).

Just as the BJP is courting allies with alacrity, the putative alliance of Opposition parties that appeared on the horizon in mid-2023 is unravelling, if at all it ever took any concrete form. The BJP has announced a tie-up with Chandrababu Naidu’s Telugu Desam Party which had parted ways in 2018 over the issue of unfulfilled promises for Andhra Pradesh.

Mr. Naidu has slowly made his way back to the NDA by distancing himself from the Opposition. The BJP is assiduously courting the Biju Janata Dal, to revive their alliance formed between 1998-2009, in Odisha. The Akali Dal is waiting for the farmers’ agitation to blow over before it could make its next move, potentially to march back to the NDA camp.

Efforts are on to bring the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam back into the NDA’s fold in Tamil Nadu. The most striking of all the recent realignments has been that of Janata Dal (United) chief and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, who is now championing a third consecutive term for the BJP at the Centre, after calling for its defeat in the preceding months.

A corresponding disarray is evident in the Opposition camp, as parties and individual leaders are jumping on the BJP bandwagon. The emaciated INDIA bloc also suffers from incoherence with allies such as the Trinamool Congress which, after weeks of talks with the Congress, announced candidates for all 42 seats of West Bengal, leaving nothing for the principal Opposition party.

To add insult to injury, Mamata Banerjee has fielded cricketer Yusuf Pathan from Baharampur against Congress state President Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury. In Maharashtra, the Shiv Sena (UBT) has unilaterally announced some candidates, threatening the alliance with the Nationalist Congress Party (Sharadchandra Pawar) and the Congress.

In Kerala, the Left parties and the Congress, two key proponents of national Opposition unity will be facing off. This usual paradox is starker this time, as Congress leader Rahul Gandhi and CPI leader Annie Raja are opponents in Wayanad. It is not a coincidence that many of the leaders and parties that are taking positions convenient for the BJP, if not openly joining hands with it, are facing investigations by central agencies.

This role of the state in influencing party politics in India is a disturbing sign for the health of Indian democracy, and also of the inglorious records of the many Opposition leaders.

Meaning of the important words

mopping – the act of cleaning a surface by rubbing it with a brush and soap and water

alacrity – brisk and cheerful readiness.

resurrect – to bring someone back to life, or bring something back into use or existence after it disappeared

unravelling – investigate and solve or explain

putative – commonly accepted or supposed

assiduously – with great care and perseverance

realignments – Changing position

disarray – the state of being confused

bandwagon – used in reference to an activity, cause, etc. that is currently fashionable or popular and attracting increasing support.

paradox – a logically self-contradictory statement or a statement that runs contrary to one’s expectation

inglorious – causing shame or a loss of honour.

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