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I.N.D.I.A. derailed: BJP’s Machiavellian strategy vs undying spirit of Congress

By Rakesh Ranjan- 12 Feb 2024


New Delhi (12.02.2024): Inherent contradictions, incompatibilities and personal egos seem to have grounded Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance (I.N.D.I.A) before it takes off and the rudderless group collapsed like a house of cards. On the contrary NDA, which was being sneered at by its allies deserting the alliance for its alleged arrogance, is emerging as an even more cohesive group at the right time. Interestingly, decisions and strategies of the NDA made things miserable for I.N.D.I.A as many were targeted towards it. Obviously for any government seeking third consecutive term, anti-incumbency is the biggest worry but the kind of politics the BJP under Narendra Modi is doing, new term pro-incumbency has been coined where the BJP-led governments are getting repeated with improved performances. The NaMo-Shah duo have turned crisis into opportunity whether in governance or managing alliance partners or tackling opposition parties.

Family verses Pariwar in Maharashtra

Consistency and perseverance have been key to their strategies. To begin with, the BJP knew it very well that the Congress, Shiv Sena and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) could have pulled rug beneath the NDA’s feet at least in Maharashtra, so not only the most trusted Shiv Sainik Eknath Shinde but Ajit Pawar, nephew of NCP patriarch, found their future in NDA by splitting the party. The Election Commission of India ruled Ajit Pawar-led NCP as the original. Groups that joined the NDA got the original election symbols. The ailing and incongruous Sharad Pawar’s party had its influence in 3.5 districts around Baramati which is now halved. How much it would be able to contribute to I.N.D.I.A is really giving psephologists a tough time. Pawar trying to fix the shaky political future of his daughter Supriya Sule is in a fix. Uddhav Thackrey became the CM of Maharashtra by sacrificing the tag of king maker. Now Thakrey’s are neither king nor king maker and nobody goes to Sanjay Raut for his spicy comments. Apparently, the way Uddhav and his wife flaunted their picture in Vande Bharat train – the flagship project of Prime Minister Narendra Modi – it provided fuel to speculation that they too are coming back to NDA again giving another blow to I.N.D.I.A.

Nitish liquidated yet again

Bihar that was giving sleepless nights to the BJP leaders has now shifted to I.N.D.I.A leaders with its proposed convenor Nitish Kumar who joined the NDA with his bandwagon. But the BJP accepted him with its own terms and conditions that would show up during Lok Sabha elections with JD(U) fighting 10-12 LS seats only. Bharat Ratna to Karpuri Thakur, who belonged to the EBC barber community, has shaken the OBC politics in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. This has taken away proprietary rights from parties like SP and RJD in UP and Bihar, respectively which claimed to be custodians of OBC rights but failed to travel beyond Yadav-centric politics. Euphoria is prevailing in the Hindutva group after the Prime Minister tweeted L K Advani being conferred with Bharat Ratna.

Politics of Bharat Ratna

Indianmandarins wrote ‘No one knows what Modi will pull out next from his hat!'' The testimony to this is here when Bharat Ratna was announced for two former PMs Chaudhary Charan Singh, P V Narsimha Rao and an agricultural scientist M S Swaminathan. The grandson of Charan Singh who was part of  I.N.D.I.A who is likely to join NDA to contest 3-4 LS seats against 7 given to him by Akhilesh Yadav. Jats have their influence in Western UP, Haryana, Rajasthan and Punjab. Vice President of India Jagdeep Dhankhar is a Jat from Rajasthan and these decisions will certainly have their electoral impacts.

Social media has been flooded with the story that the mortal remains of Narsimha Rao were not allowed to be given last rites in Delhi allegedly by Gandhies. Bharat Ratna to Rao who was CM of undivided Andhra Pradesh will help the BJP to spread its wings in Telangana and Andhra. The BJP is making it Congress verses BJP in Telangana while it is in talks with Telugu Desam Party (TDP) chief N Chandrababu Naidu and Jan Sena Party chief Pawan Kalyan. It is bargaining for 6-8 seats out of total 25 in the state. None of these parties are part of I.N.D.I.A. rather they all including BJD in Odisha add strength to the NDA. M S Swaminathan is an agriculture scientist who belongs to Tamil Nadu which is one of the most focused areas of NDA. With three Tamil minister in Union cabinet, three Tamil governors in various states, a Tamil scientist Swaminathan getting Bharat Ratna, 15 former MLAs joining the BJP in the state and aggressive Hindutva posturing of TN BJP chief K Annamalai tells the tale of the BJP strategy in the southern state. When the I.N.D.I.A was counting on political parties, the NDA was counting on votes. The BJP is also working on an out of the box strategy by winning over Christian religious leaders in Tamil Nadu and Kerala where they are wooed to align with the BJP to counter radical Islamists.


Mamata: Her own mistress

All these things put together, I.N.D.I.A comes crumbling with West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee unilaterally announcing that she would contest all alone in the state. Apparently under pressure, AAP convenor Arvind Kejriwal also announced to contest all 14 seats in Punjab & Chandigarh on its own. He has already announced some seats in Assam which will only harm the Congress (I.N.D.I.A) that had won three seats in 2019 polls. Even if some kind of agreement reaches between the Congress and AAP in Delhi, Congress voters except Muslims would go for BJP instead of AAP and vice versa. Change of guard in Jharkhand has not only caused a confusion in JMM but also in the minds of predominantly tribal voters. The BJP already has Vishnu Deo Sai as Chhattisgarh CM and Droupadi Murmu as President of India to woo tribals. With the blessings of BJP duo on the top, Himanta Biswa Sarma is in complete control of North East, even Manipur failed to break ice for the Congress.

Spirited Rahul Gandhi

Meanwhile, the Congress still hopes from Rahul’s undying spirit for Yatra. In fact, BJP’s aggressive politics hasn’t left any scope for the Opposition and the Congress except Yatra which some term as silent revolution on the streets. When Congress leaders are busy with Bharat Jodo Nyaya Yatra (BJNY), the BJP is in the game. With almost complete blackout to the BJNY in media and party insiders coming to terms that 2024 Lok Sabha polls are end game for the Congress, Rahul Gandhi is not losing courage defeats after defeat and continuing his unfettered fight against the BJP on the principle of Karma Yoga. But in politics the outcome of your action does matter that the Congress is failing to learn, at least this is what can be drawn from the fiasco of  I.N.D.I.A. Defeats in Assembly elections in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh are dubbed as sacrificing bigger gains for petty benefits and saving personal fiefdom. This is doing irreparable damage to the Congress. The BJP has reasons to be thankful to the short-sightedness and petty politics of Kamal Nath, Ashok Gehlot and Bhupesh Baghel which turned out to be turning point for the failure of I.N.D.I.A. It might be crafting Rahul into the only opposition leader with undying conviction but the battle for 2024 elections seems over before it starts.

(Rakesh Ranjan)

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