2024 is going to be a challenging year for all political parties; on the one hand, the Narendra Modi-led BJP alliance will try to win for the third consecutive time to make history, and on the other hand, the Congress alliance will try to come into power after ten years.
But if we look at the political survey from different groups, they all give an edge to Modi. Rahul Gandhi-led Congress is creating a buzz with Bharat Jodo Yatra to raise voices against the BJP government on different incidents. However, when Rahul Gandhi lost his membership in parliament in the defamation case, many were concerned, even from his party, for his future in politics.
To combat its biggest enemy, BJP, Congress and all the opposition devised a solid plan. In an unprecedented move, 26 opposition parties have united to form the Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance (INDIA) to challenge the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its charismatic leader, Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The idea of a united opposition alliance gained momentum as various regional and national parties acknowledged the need to present a united front against the BJP's electoral prowess. Historically, opposition parties struggled to merge due to power struggles, ideological differences, and personality clashes. But realising that no single party stood a viable chance against Modi and the BJP, the leaders of 26 opposition parties came together to form the INDIA alliance.
After this announcement, Twitter India was trending with NDA vs INDIA. Key members of the INDIA alliance include India's largest national opposition party, the Congress party, and powerful regional parties like Trinamool Congress, led by Mamata Banerjee, governing West Bengal, and the Aam Aadmi Party, ruling Delhi and Punjab.
The alliance aims to defeat the divisive politics propagated by the BJP and preserve the democratic and inclusive ideals enshrined in the Indian Constitution. Past efforts by the top opposition to unite against the Modi-led BJP government have failed because the parties are direct state rivals.
However, some on Twitter raise questions about the name of the INDIA acronym but with many seeing it as a clever ploy to play the nationalist card against the BJP. As Mamata Banerjee also said, "BJP, can you challenge INDIA,"
Despite the unity of the opposition parties under the INDIA alliance, challenging Modi and the BJP remains a formidable task. Modi's leadership enjoys significant popularity across India, even among voters who may not necessarily support the BJP's state-level policies.
Additionally, the BJP holds a dominant parliamentary majority, winning 303 seats out of 543 in the 2019 election. Even though there were mixed results in the last state legislative elections for BJP, it still governs around 15 states either by itself or with its coalitions.
Despite governing 11 states, the INDIA alliance falls short of the BJP's 15 states. Moreover, Modi's tenure has witnessed the consolidation of power and the weakening of opposition parties through investigations and legal actions.
The conviction and disqualification of Rahul Gandhi, former Congress party leader, exemplify this trend. Or just simply by breaking the party into two halves. Shivsena and NCP are the recent examples in Maharashtra state. As the leader of the INDIA alliance against Modi, Rahul Gandhi plays a crucial role. Although he faced defeats in the last two elections, he remains a prominent figure in the opposition.
After losing Amethi in 2019, Rahul Gandhi understood one thing the BJP could only be defeated if the opposition was united. However, it took work, especially with TMC and the Aam Aadmi Party, the two biggest rivals of Congress. In 2013, Aam Admi Patry came into existence by opposing Congress. Now AAP is facing a tough time as its two prominent leaders and former ministers, Satendra Jain and Manish Sisodia, are in jail in different cases, Party leader Kejriwal accepted Gandhi's offer to join the alliance.
Also, AAP, which had criticised the Congress for not supporting the Delhi ordinance the last time the opposition parties met in Patna, has joined this group. Mamata Banerjee, who had sniped at Rahul Gandhi, now calls him her favourite; she also willingly becomes part of an alliance that has her two rivals, the Congress and the Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPI (M)).
But more than just naming the alliance or sharing the podium will be needed. It also means some serious work compromises, adjustments and the most critical and painful of them all, seat sharing. This will require very delicate conversations, and at the centre of them, all will be the Congress.
It is important to note that while the Congress is part of the alliance, it has chosen not to assert dominance and has expressed disinterest in claiming the prime ministerial post. The face of the INDIA alliance against Modi could involve a collective leadership representing various regional and national parties. Alliance has yet to discuss who will be the face of them if they will win the elections.
Historically, coalitions have played a crucial role in Indian politics due to the diverse and multi-party nature of the country. The NDA, launched in 1998 with Atal Bihari Vajpayee as its leader, has faced fluctuations over the years.
Modi's leadership has seen a resurgence of the NDA, which currently includes 38 political allies. However, the BJP's dominance has reduced the influence of smaller alliance partners. Coincidently when the opposition was uniting, BJP also became proactive in reaching its allies, indicating a recognition of the need to strengthen the NDA for the upcoming elections.
The success of the INDIA alliance in defeating Modi and the BJP depends on several factors. One critical challenge involves seat-sharing arrangements among alliance partners, particularly in regions where Congress and regional parties have been traditional rivals. In almost all the states in which the regional opposition parties hold sway, the Congress is their main rival.
For example, if we take AAP, which now dominates Delhi and Punjab, will they share seats in the capital with Congress in the 2024 elections? And same with Bengal, where Mamata Banerjee is at loggerheads with Congress and the CPI(M). It could complicate the matter. In places like Tamil Nadu, it may not matter, but it will in Bihar, where Nitish Kumar will have reservations. Negotiating these delicate conversations and accommodating different party interests is essential for presenting a united front.
Moreover, the Congress's prominent role within the alliance might lead to tensions with other regional parties. The Congress's national presence and demand for seats in various states could be perceived as an assertion of dominance, potentially alienating other parties.
The formation of the Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance (INDIA) marks a significant development in Indian politics. With 26 opposition parties coming together to challenge the BJP and Narendra Modi in the 2024 elections, the political landscape is poised for intense competition.
The INDIA alliance's potential to defeat Modi depends on navigating seat-sharing challenges and maintaining a united front against the ruling party's formidable electoral prowess.
Narendra Modi's rise to power drew upon the groundwork during Vajpayee's era, which saw the BJP's acceptance as a national political force. However, in the years since 2014, the BJP's growth has come at the expense of its allies. Even the Shiv Sena, a major Hindutva party, abandoned the BJP.
The BJP's politics, including hard Hindutva and alleged corruption, have made potential allies wary. Consequently, opposition parties are contemplating forging alliances under the banner of INDIA. The fear is that the BJP's relentless hunger for growth may lead it to swallow up or destroy other parties, compromising the principles of coalition politics.
Although J P Nadda has gathered 38 parties under the NDA, closer scrutiny reveals that most are minor players, with key figures like Mamata Banerjee and Nitish Kumar opposing the alliance.
The current politics of the BJP may not align with the spirit of compromise necessary for successful coalition-building. While some argue that the BJP doesn't require allies, the party's efforts to project an alliance suggest that not everyone within the ruling party believes India is ready for a one-party democracy. Nonetheless, the current NDA is a one-party alliance, raising questions about the future of coalition politics in India. In a diverse democracy like India, the dominance of a single party and majoritarian ideology running unchecked should be challenged to preserve the spirit of democratic representation.
On the other hand, the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) seeks to solidify its position by reaching out to old and new allies. As the elections approach, coalitions play a crucial role in shaping India's diverse and multi-party democracy, promising greater representativeness and diverse perspectives in government. The journey towards 2024 will undoubtedly be challenging, and the outcome will profoundly impact India's political landscape for years to come.
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