End of the road for the NDA? Is BJP too strong?

Amitabh Tiwari
·Columnist
·5 min read

The Gorkha Janukti Morcha is the latest to join the bandwagon of those quitting the National Democratic Alliance.

GJM chief Bimal Gurung alleged that the Prime Minister Narendra Modi had not kept his commitment towards Gorkhaland. GJM follows a series of exits from the NDA including high profile and oldest allies of the BJP like Akali Dal and Shiv Sena.

Around a month ago, Shiromani Akali Dal, the oldest ally of BJP in the state of Punjab and at the national level, quit NDA in protest against the farm bills introduced by the Modi government, terming it anti-farmer.

Last year, post the declaration of results of Maharashtra, Shiv Sena left the NDA over differences on power sharing formula. With Akali Dal, it was one of the oldest allies of BJP. They shared a common belief system and ideology - Hindutva.

Adding salt to the wound Shiv Sena joined hands with the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party to deny BJP and Devendra Fadnavis another term.

Over the years parties like Telugu Desam Party (Andhra), Trinamool Congress (West Bengal), Biju Janata Dal (Odisha), JMM (Jharkhand), PDP (Jammu & Kashmir), AGP (Assam), INLD (Haryana) have left the NDA due to various reasons.

Some parties like the JD(U) and AIADMK have made a ghar wapsi to the NDA after leaving the alliance in 2004 and 2013 respectively. Paswan’s LJP can also be added to this list.

History of NDA

The National Democratic Alliance was formed in May 1998 before the general elections. The alliance has successfully formed a government at the centre in 1998, 1999, 2014 and 2019.

BJP’s tally has been in the range of 70%-75% from 1998-2009 during pre-Modi era.

In the last two Lok Sabha elections this ratio has inched up to 85% levels as BJP on a standalone basis has crossed the halfway mark securing a majority riding on the leadership of Modi.

List of Parties who have left the NDA

Tally of BJP and Allies in Lok Sabha elections since formation of NDA

In the early days of NDA, its convenor used to be from the allies, like Chandrababu Naidu (TDP), George Fernandes (Samata Party), Sharad Yadav (JD{U}). However, post the exit of JD(U) in 2013, thIS position has been with BJP. Amit Shah is the Chairperson of NDA currently.

Earlier meetings used to be convened for NDA partners to discuss important policy decisions, now these have been far and few.

Why regional parties are exiting NDA?

Many regional parties which were born on the plank of non-Congressism joined the NDA in early years. TMC and AIADMK in the east, JD(U) in the north, TDP and AIADMK in the south, Lok Dal, National Conference in the north and Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party in the west.

In most of these states both BJP and the regional party needed each other to expand and take on the might of Congress. It suited both the partners. It was a win-win for both.

Some parties left the NDA after the Godhra incident as it marred their secular credentials like Farooq Abdullah’s NC and Ram Vilas Paswan’s LJP. After NDA’s shock loss in 2004, parties like TMC left the alliance due to compulsion of being in good books with the UPA government at the centre.

Naveen Patnaik left the NDA as he didn’t feel the need of support from BJP in Odisha. BJD emerged as self-sufficient to defeat the Congress.

BJP’s aggressive expansion has put at risk regional party’s existence in states like Maharashtra (Shiv Sena) and Andhra (TDP).

The party has emerged from the shackles of the Shiv Sena and has emerged as the principal player in the state. In Andhra, BJP is hoping to become number 2 player after Naidu’s big loss in 2019.

A simple majority of its own has led to BJP arm twisting its allies. They allege it doesn’t consult partners on policy matters, and doesn’t heed to suggestions.

JD(U) which along with BJP swept Bihar in general elections refused to be part of cabinet as it was being offered just one cabinet berth.

Chirag Paswan’s demands for seat distribution were not met in Bihar elections and LJP is contesting alone. It has put up candidates where JD(U) is contesting thus damaging NDA’s prospects.

BJP is in majority by itself and this means it doesn’t need to depend upon its allies to remain in power at the Centre.

Its experiment with PDP also failed after it broke ties. Allies complain of the party's ruthless approach to remain in power and high handedness for their exit.

BJP has now emerged as the principal/pole player in Indian politics, similar to the one enjoyed by Congress from 1950s to late 1980s. The discourse has moved from anti-Congressism to anti-BJPism.

Mamata Banerjee is facing a tough contest from BJP in West Bengal in 2021 where the party is aiming to dislodge TMC. Currently, most of its allies are very small parties, except JD(U).

This relationship could also take any form depending upon the results of Bihar. If BJP tries to force Nitish out of the chief ministerial chair then things could go sour.

Many allies left are smaller parties and in the north east. BJP has backed some regional forces to occupy power in the region. However, the relations remain tense as allies are wary of BJP’s moves and intentions.

The BJP doesn't need the NDA anymore after having achieved its objectives. The NDA needs the BJP.

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