The question whether to work out an alliance with regional parties for the upcoming assembly polls is haunting both the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
Four states -- Tamil Nadu, Kerala, West Bengal and Assam -- will go for polls to elect new assemblies and the elections are likely to be held between mid-April to May.
The Congress party may find an answer this week as party vice-president Rahul Gandhi completes his consultations with the state unit leaders. On Monday, Gandhi met party leaders from West Bengal to take their feedback on possible options of alliance formation.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) too, is winding up its consultations with its state leadership on preparations for the upcoming polls.
Parliamentary affairs minister and former BJP chief Venkaiah Naidu is set to travel to Assam for similar talks with local BJP satraps. The BJP central leadership has also asked its other senior Union minister to visit Assam, where it eyes its best chance of winning a state in 2016, to hold dialogues with locals and organise campaigns.
The Congress had already completed talks with its leaders from Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Assam for the upcoming elections. The BJP is in talks with local parties in Kerala and Tamil Nadu to explore possible poll pacts.
Here’s a look at possible alliance scenarios in each state.
With J Jayalalithaa, the leader of the ruling AIADMK, unlikely to join any pact, the BJP may look at other parties like Captain Vijaykant’s DMDK and the PMK.
The Congress is looking to revive its alliance with DMK, its estranged ally of the second UPA. Senior Congress leaders feel it has little chance of winning many seats if it is left to fight elections alone.
The Congress unit is divided over the option of joining hands with Badruddin Ajmal’s AIUDF, a party which enjoys support among the Bengali-speaking Muslims in the state. While chief minister Tarun Gogoi, a three-time CM, is opposed to the alliance a large section of the party favours such pact to avoid division of anti-BJP votes.
The BJP, with its best chance of winning a state lying in Assam, seems to be opening up to the possibility of a tie-up with the Asom Gana Parishad, a former ally of the NDA. The BJP-AGP tie up may expect to consolidate their position in Upper Assam.
With Trinamool Congress looking comfortable in power, the Congress has to take a call if it wants to tie up with the Left parties or Trinamool or go alone. The state unit is vehemently opposed to any alliance with the Trinamool but a large section also wants to avoid going alone in the polls.
The BJP is unlikely to find any big ally in the state and a four-corner contest may actually help the BJP to gain ground in the border state where it has just one MLA in the 294-seat strong assembly.
The Congress hopes to retain the pack of allies in the UDF coalition.
The BJP is trying to forge an alliance with SNDP—a powerful OBC group. The rise of BJP may create further chinks in the Left armour and may benefit the Congress.