NDA faces alliance troubles

A recent departure and a threatened walkout have shown that the NDA platform built by the BJP is not as stable and strong as it was earlier. After long-time ally Shiv Sena parted ways with the BJP last month, the Telugu Desam Party (TDP), which is also an ally of long standing, threatened to leave the alliance last week, though it finally decided to stay on. It is not known if the truce will hold, because Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister and TDP supremo Chandrababu Naidu has said that the alliance issue will be taken up "at a later date". The party's MPs continue to raise its demands and grievances in parliament and are prepared to "disrupt it" if necessary, like an opposition party. So, the relations continue to be strained. Naidu was unhappy that the state was ignored in the Union budget and the Centre did not keep the promise of a special status and financial packages, made when the parent state was divided.  

The BJP's relations with its allies and its management of the alliance have undergone major changes. It is not dependent on its allies as the earlier NDA was, because it has a majority of its own in the Lok Sabha and its own government in many states. The leadership is assertive and even arrogant, unlike the earlier one which was politically and even ideologically accommodating and sensitive to the concerns of allies. The party's positions and policies have caused discomfort to some allies. Its centralising tendencies and refusal to condemn, sometimes even tacit endorsement of, the actions of Hindutva fringe groups have unnerved allies who are regionally entrenched and have composite support bases. It should be noted that the Telugu Desam voted with the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha on the triple talaq bill.  

The Shiv Sena has made it clear that it will contest the next Lok Sabha and Maharashtra state assembly elections without an alliance with the BJP. The Akali Dal, another ally, has said that the BJP should learn 'coalition dharma' and be more accommodative of its partners. JD(U) leader Nitish Kumar has opposed the BJP's idea of simultaneous elections. All these strains and differences have come to the surface after the setback suffered by the BJP in Gujarat and the recent defeat in by-elections in Rajasthan. Party leader Yashwant Sinha has set up a forum against the present leadership and the government. The question has been posed whether the party wants to go it alone in the next elections, but it is in no position to do so as it is much more vulnerable now than at any time in the recent past.

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