Much to the delight of Narendra Modi-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA), fissures are slowly but surely becoming visible in the opposition’s much-vaunted INDIA alliance. Instead of drawing strength from one another, some of the alliance partners have openly fallen out over seat-sharing arrangements in poll-bound states such as Madhya Pradesh. This is bound to have repercussions for them not only in the upcoming assembly elections in the five states, but also in the general elections scheduled next year.
Right now Congress and Samajwadi Party, both important constituents of INDIA, which was formed at an opposition conclave in Bangalore earlier this year, are caught in an unseemly row over seat sharing in Madhya Pradesh. Samajwadi Party supremo and former chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, Akhilesh Yadav, is miffed with the Congress for going back on its promise of giving his party six seats in MP. Stung by this “backstabbing” act, Yadav is likely to have a rethink over his party’s possible alliance with the Congress in Uttar Pradesh for the 2024 general elections.
What seems to rankle Akhilesh most is that his party has been denied the promised six seats in MP even after an assurance from such a seasoned leader as Kamal Nath who happens to be a former chief minister of the state. Akhilesh finds it downright humiliating that Congress is taking his party for granted. Congress leaders, according to him, have no scruples about waking up SP leaders at midnight but they go back on their word without an iota of compunction.
Not ready to take things lying down anymore, the SP chief has warned about a possible rethink on an alliance with the Congress in Uttar Pradesh for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. That, he apparently thinks, is the best way of returning Congress’ favour. But if the SP boss really carries out his threat, it could cost the Congress and the INDIA alliance dearly in the general elections next year. Considering that UP happens to be the largest and politically the most important state of the country with 80 Lok Sabha seats, a rift in the INDIA alliance would immediately benefit the BJP which is keen to retain its sway over Uttar Pradesh.
The coming assembly elections in the five states are going to be a litmus test for the INDIA alliance, which is trying hard to ensure one-to-one contests with the BJP and the BJP-led NDA parties in assembly and Lok Sabha elections. However, as some seasoned opposition leaders have already cautioned, this is not going to be easy because of the adversarial relations between INDIA alliance partners in some of the key states, including UP and West Bengal. While Mamata Banerjee-led TMC treats Congress and CPI(M) as rivals in her state, SP and Congress view each other as adversaries in UP despite a broad-based alliance at the national level.
All this is definitely music to the ears of the BJP, which had been patiently waiting for the inner contradictions of INDIA alliance partners to come into the open. The more the opposition parties fight among themselves, the better for the BJP and the NDA.