Blow to NDA

The decision of the Janata Dal (United), announced by party president Sharad Yadav and Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar on Sunday, to leave the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), though very much on the cards, is a big blow to the BJP-led alliance.

  After naming Narendra Modi as the campaign chief of the party for 2014 Lok Sabha elections last week, the BJP should have expected such a development, but its timing and possible impact on the voters’ perception of the NDA, should be a matter of considerable worry to the BJP ahead of the elections. It would not have been easy for Nitish Kumar to break this alliance of over 17 years, which helped him to come to power in Bihar and keep Lalu Prasad’s RJD at bay. After successfully running a coalition government since Novermber, 2005, he has been forced to sack the BJP ministers from the cabinet. Though there is no immediate danger to his government, Nitish will have to walk a tightrope to succeed in the Lok Sabha polls. 

There is already a talk of forming a federal front or a third front of regional parties, floated by West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee. It is conceived as a non-Congress, non-BJP platform. Orissa chief minister Naveen Patnaik is sympathetic to the idea and so is Nitish Kumar and Chandrababu Naidu of the Telugu Desam. But these are disparate political parties which are limited by their regional or caste support bases. Even assuming that the national parties will be weaker and the regional parties will do better in the next elections, it is almost impossible to imagine that a regional parties’ alliance will win enough number of seats to form a government. With nothing in common among the constituent parties, except a stance against the national parties, this will only be a fractious grouping without a glue to bind it.  

The JD(U)’s departure from the NDA will hurt the BJP most and the beleaguered NDA will welcome the development gleefully. The ‘coalition of consensus’ conceived by former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpeee which helped the BJP to taste power at the Centre is in tatters. But it cannot go back on Narendra Modi’s appointment as campaign chief and the onus will be on Modi to prove that he can not only garner votes, but stitch together a new alliance. If he cannot do either of the two, party patriarch L K Advani will have the last laugh. 

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