Perhaps the most audacious display of lack of any principles is that of Chandrashekhar Rao of the TRS, who after having got the Congress to push through the formation of Telangana, not only refused to merge his party with the Congress as had been agreed upon but is also not biting as far as a pre-poll alliance goes. In fact, the wily Rao is now in talks with the BJP. The Congress’ erstwhile southern ally, the DMK, for whom it took flak during the telecom scandal, is now showing a marked reluctance to make its intentions clear. As for the Samajwadi Party, it seems to chop and change its stance each day. The fiery Mamata Banerjee has ‘conclusively’ ruled out the BJP as an ally but seemed all sweetness and light when Mr Modi held a rally in Kolkata earlier. And she is not well known for her consistency. The AIADMK is enigmatically silent on alliances as is BSP leader Mayawati.
So we find, as we go into the election, no clear ideological divisions except between the big two and no real indication on which way the allies will go. It is tough going for both the Congress and the BJP to ascertain who will go with them. In such a situation, we could assume that the allies’ loyalties could be swung by pre-poll promises of portfolios and other sops. But given the track record of many allies, they may well change their minds repeatedly along the way. At the risk of speculation, it may be wise for the Congress and the BJP to realistically expect that the allies will only come on board after the numbers come in.