The BJP’s New Disposable Allies 

This week, the BJP released photographs of a beaming Shah welcoming both back to the NDA. It betrayed panic. The imperious Modi– Shah duo had been rudely brought down to earth. It was a pathetic display of a ‘coalition of convenience’.

Two plausible explanations emerge for the hurried revival of a comatose NDA. The first is the need to shield Modi from the sole burden of ensuring victory in the general election. The BJP appears to have abandoned the trope of ‘Modi vs All’.

While Modi will undoubtedly campaign as relentlessly as ever, should any reverses transpire, they may now be attributed to flawed allies. The second explanation is that the BJP has realised at the eleventh hour that it will be a Herculean task to repeat its performance of 2014 and 2019, when it had won 282 and 303 Lok Sabha seats respectively on its own.

Should it fall short of the majority by 75–80 seats this time, it will need allies. Remarkably, several regional parties like the BJD, BRS, YSRC, BSP and SAD (Badal) kept away from the NDA meeting. Three of these are in power in various states. Also significant was the absence of the Janata Dal (Secular), which was reportedly keen to join. H.D. Kumaraswamy, who was apparently waiting for the invitation, sulked openly.

 A ‘ruthless’ BJP has acquired a certain notoriety for not sparing friends any more than foes when it suits. It is widely perceived to have used central agencies like the CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation), income tax department and the ED (Enforcement Directorate) to threaten and intimidate rival leaders. It has not thought twice before poaching key players or engineering defections.

As for the allies, they may have arrived out of a sense of resignation to the apparent inevitability of a BJP victory in 2024, or fear of harassment over alleged scams 10–15 years old or having simply run out of options—but how many will back the BJP in a hung verdict? While there are indeed no permanent friends or foes in politics, the BJP’s ambition of being the only ruling party casts a shadow on an alliance like the NDA. Chances are that when it comes to the crunch, BJP may well find itself alone—just as it likes to portray.

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