The NDA’s shifting dynamics | HT Editorial
The elections have enhanced the BJP’s dependence on alliesUpdated: Oct 28, 2019, 19:21 IST
The National Democratic Alliance, of which the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is the core, has seen a shift in power dynamics over the last two decades. Under AB Vajpayee, dictated by the BJP’s absence of majority in Parliament, allies exercised an important say in decision-making and had a substantial share in the power structure. After 2014, when the BJP returned to power with a majority of its own, its dependence on allies dipped — but Prime Minister Narendra Modi gave them a share in Cabinet portfolios. After the Lok Sabha elections earlier this year, the BJP’s relative power — compared to its allies — grew even further. The space for allies shrunk, and all parties recognised it was Mr Modi’s appeal that drove the mandate.
But the Maharashtra and Haryana elections have led to a slight shift in this power dynamic. The BJP emerged as the single largest party in Haryana. But it needed support to form the government. Dushyant Chautala’s Jannayak Janata Party provided these numbers. But this came at a cost. The BJP has had to make him deputy chief minister. This could, however, help the BJP in the medium-term. It is a way to reach out to the Jat community, which has been alienated from the party. The BJP may also use Mr Chautala to reach out to Jats in Uttar Pradesh.
In Maharashtra though, the shift in the power dynamic is more visible. The Shiv Sena, which had once been the senior partner in the alliance prior to 2014, has been reeling with anger over the past five years because of the BJP’s rise in the state and the fact that it had to work under Devendra Fadnavis in government. It also had to settle for fewer seats in the alliance in this election. But the verdict has created grounds for a renegotiation of terms. The BJP saw a dip in seats and needs the Sena’s support. The Sena sees this as an opportunity to push its claim for rotational chief ministership for Aaditya Thackeray, a claim that the BJP sees as unjustified for it remains the larger party by a stretch. The Maharashtra negotiations will take time, but it indicates that while the BJP is politically dominant, it needs other sources of support and may have to make some adjustments.