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Election Arithmetic: The Game of Numbers

Author : Bhabtosh Pati | Posted on: 2019-03-17

India is infamous as regards to the honesty of leaders and their allegiance to a particular party. This is more pronounced during the election session as they try to jump out from the sinking ship to greener pasture. Keeping in view of the above situation, many stalwarts from Congress party have defected to the BJP for a better future. It seems to be a season of defection for the Congress, losing four lawmakers to BJP and losing the key leader Sujay Vikhe Patil, son of the leader of opposition in the Maharashtra assembly. The congress seems to be in a fix as far as the alliances are concerned and the BJP seems to have overtaken from a point when The congress was at the forefront of trying to forge an anti-BJP front, trying to bring together the alliance partners and the rival political parties which were in the opposition camp. In the last few months the BJP seems to have raced ahead in forging alliances as it managed to get its deal get going with the Shiv Sena in Maharashtra, The Shiromanio Akali Dali in Punjab, by joining the AIADMK-DMDK-PMK alliance in Tamil Nadu. The Congress looks like a little less cohesive front with the BSP announcing its inability to join any alliance with the congress throughout the Indian geography. We do know that in Uttar Pradesh the arch rivals SP- BSP came together leaving no room for the congress party’s strategy of piggy backing and increasing its tally in the state. This is also seen as a manifestation of split or weakened opposition. So, the pertinent question that needs to be asked in this situation is “Is the BJP the greenest pasture in this election”?

There are two aspects to this question; firstly, “Whether the BJP is the more attractive option at this point?” Perhaps yes, as visible in the series of defection of congress lawmakers in Gujarat. As many as four Congress lawmakers — Jawahar Chavda, Parshottam Sabariya, Vallabh Dharaviya and Ashaben Patel — have parted ways from the grand old party and joined the BJP in the past month, suggesting that ‘Operation Lotus’ is headed in the right path to retain all 26 Lok Sabha seats in Gujarat. In July last year Congess MLA Kuwalji Bawaliya also joined the saffron party. Prominent OBC leader who joined the Congress ranks in the run up to the Gujarat Assembly elections has been in talks with the BJP, even though for now he has said that he firmly remains in Congress but that is a vulnerable spot for the Congress as he has publicly showed his displeasure for the Congress party and has accepted to be in talks with BJP. In Maharashtra Sujay Vikhe Patil, who is the son of Radha Krishna Vikhe Patil, the leader of opposition in the Maharashtra assembly, who aligned with the BJP that has left the congress red faced. At one point of time the BJP seemed like losing allies like the TDP and AGP, gradually it seems to have made up and compensated on that front by not only re-aligning with the AGP but also setting the screws loose of the North East Democratic Alliance (NEDA) and finalising seat sharing arrangements with its constituents. Another big development coming from the South is the BJP’s formation of a rainbow coalition with the Dravidian Parties (AIADMK-DMDK-PMK) which seems like a force to reckon with and may pose serious challenge to a resurrecting DMK.

The Second aspect being the perception created about the BJP as the option not only for the leaders of various parties but also for the populace at large. The BJP is attempting to project itself as a more bankable political force for allies and for other political leader, which it hopes will send out a message to the voters that it is a better option and will open many more fronts among the different sections of the society.

The mass defections and alienations from the Congress is a continuing phenomenon and the reasons seem to be multifarious as different leaders have cited different reasons for their departure from the Congress. Second generation Congress leaders like Rita Bahuguna Joshi, Vijay Bahuguna, Jagdambika Pal or more recently if we look at the likes of a leader like Himanta Biswa Sarma whose loss has meant not only a loss in Assam but in the entire North East. All these leaders had a single running complaint of the inaccessibility and unavailability of the Congress High Command and lack of concern of the Congress High Command towards grievance redressal. This is something which latest entrants like Alpesh Thakore have also communicated to the High Command but with no effect.

Local Factors have also been a major reason for the dissention and subsequent flight of Congress leaders. In the Case of Vikhe Patil, the reason seems to be the Ahmed Nagar Lok Sabha Seat which otherwise is a NCP seat in the coalition dynamics, which it is not ready to let go off. Prospects of getting the Ahmed Nagar seat may have prompted the Vikhe Patil Jr. to part ways and join the ranks of BJP. In Gujarat again, there are a range of factors but what is of supreme importance is the infighting in the rank and cadre of Gujarat Congress. Other local factors have also made the road tougher for the Congress and made the BJP look like a better prospect for these leaders. How well the congress keeps its flock intact will decide its fate and prospects in the coming election season.

 

The author teaches Geography and contemporary affairs and is a well-known political commentator. 

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