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That shrinking feeling again

delhi Updated: Jun 21, 2010 00:24 IST
Vikas Pathak

If the 15-year-old BJP-JD(U) alliance collapses, the NDA, which has been steadily losing ally support, will shrink further, with the Shiv Sena and the Shiromani Akali Dal, perhaps, the BJP’s only major remaining allies.

The BJP seems to be preparing for the worst in Bihar. “We may have to go it alone if things keep worsening,” said a Bihar BJP office bearer.

However, BJP Bihar president C.P. Thakur was more hopeful. “This is not so large an issue as to break the alliance,” he told Hindustan Times.

The “issue” Thakur is referring to is, of course, Nitish Kumar’s angry reaction to the publishing of advertisements in Patna newspapers showing him and Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi holding hands, and Gujarat’s publicity about sending flood aid to Bihar.

What does a potential split in the BJP-JD(U) mean for India’s main Opposition party?

Without the JD(U), the BJP may cut a sorry figure in Bihar, the only large north Indian state where the party is in a ruling coalition.

This does not augur well for the party, as it needs a steady performance in the north — a BJP citadel in the aftermath of the Ramjanmabhoomi movement — for it to stand any real chance of taking on the Congress.

“The BJP has been a regional force with a national presence rather than a genuinely national party,” says political scientist Jyotirmaya Sharma.

If it loses Bihar, the party will become marginal in the two most populous Hindi heartland states, UP and Bihar, which together account for about 120 Lok Sabha seats.

With inroads into the south, with the exception of Karnataka, proving difficult too, the BJP is in danger of becoming a central and western Indian party.