The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) President Amit Shah is busy darting through Dehradoon to Chennai to other cities in an attempt to identify new allies ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
Though it’s nothing new, still it’s a strategy not only to expand its voter base but also to counter state-specific resistances. alliances being formed by opposition parties.
BJP president Amit Shah has directed all state units to prepare a list of potential allies; the list would be discussed when he visits those states during his ‘pravas’.
The move to involve the state leadership in the exercise is to get them to identify smaller outfits that may not have a pan-state presence but have influence among particular social groups.
The strategy to tie up with outfits such as the Rashtriya Lok Samata Party (RLSP) in Bihar, the Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party and the Apna Dal in Uttar Pradesh had helped the NDA virtually sweep these states in 2014.
In the 2014 elections, the BJP had forged alliances with 28 small and big regional parties to constitute the National Democratic Alliance (NDA). The NDA secured 334 seats in the 543-member Lok Sabha, including the BJP’s tally of 282.
Modi’s popularity may not have declined so far, but the ruling coalition at the Centre will face anti-incumbency in 2019, and double anti-incumbency in 20 states where the NDA is in power.
It has to also contend with a galvanised opposition. An anti-BJP federal front may not take off at the national level but state-specific alliance pose a big challenge to the ruling party.
A constituency-wise analysis of the 2014 Lok Sabha results showed that if the Congress, the BSP, the SP, the RLD, the RJD, the JMM and the JVM had been in an alliance then, they would have denied 64 seats to the BJP. If the first four parties had allied in Uttar Pradesh in 2014, the BJP, which eventually won 71 of the 80 Lok Sabha seats in the state, would have lost 49 of them.
It is in this backdrop that Amit Shah is looking to engage more partners in 2019. Alliances with smaller regional parties will benefit the BJP in the Lok Sabha polls.
The BJP realises that alliances with smaller regional parties are important as these are keenly contested elections. Plus, the bigger regional parties may not be attracted to it.
In Bihar, RLSP leader Upendra Kushwaha managed to consolidate OBC votes for the BJP, which largely had an upper caste vote bank in the state. Or at least it made a dent in the monopoly of Dalit and OBC votes that were commanded by established regional parties.
Did Shah take a leaf out of that? May be he did!>