It's alliance versus alliance in 2019

RJD's Tejashwi Yadav, along with other Mahagathbandhan leaders, speak during a press conference at which RLSP leader Upendra Kushwaha joined the grand alliance, at AICC in New Delhi on Thursday. PTI

As the 2019 Lok Sabha election gradually reshapes into a battle of alliances, key parties vying for shot at power in Centre are in a mad scramble for allies — be it the two main contenders BJP and Congress or regional parties like BSP.

Unlike 2014, when the fight was primarily between the two, the field before the 2019 polls has been left wide open.

A lot of combustion has been happening. Shaibal Gupta, founder member-Secretary of Asian Development Research Institute (ADRI) categorically says: "Alliance is the key to power in 2019. Whichever side manages to stitch a broader and more effective alliance will come to power. There is no Modi magic as there was in 2014, but what is also true is that while Modi brand has been diminished, it is not finished."

In nearly half a dozen states, which hold more than 240 Lok Sabha seats, the broad contours of the alliances have already emerged.

In the deep south, the BJP has sewn a first of its kind rainbow coalition with the AIADMK, PMK and DMDK, Congress is banking on its old ally DMK.

In Bihar, which has 40 Lok Sabha seats, the competition is between the two veterans of socialist politics, Lalu Prasad and Nitish Kumar. The RJD has brought the Congress, the RLSP and the HAM into its fold, while the other side will see an alliance of BJP, JD(U) and Ram Vilas Paswan's LJP.

HAM, which is led by former chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi, seems to be a mood to cross over to the BJP camp.

In Jharkhand, with its 14 seats, the Congress has an alliance with Shibu Soren's Mukti Morcha, Babulal Marandi’s JVM (P) and RJD, while the BJP has an alliance with the JD (U).

The role of the erstwhile NDA ally All Jharkhand Students Union is not clear yet.

In Uttar Pradesh, where there are 80 Lok Sabha seats, the SP, BSP and RLD have come together keeping the Congress out of the secular alliance, while the BJP is likely to retain its two allies, Om Prakash Rajbhar’s SBSP and Anupriya Patel’s Apna Dal.

With Priyanka Gandhi’s entry, the state could witness a triangular contest of three alliances as the Congress also plans to tie up with small parties like Shivpal Singh Yadav's Pragatisheel Samajwadi Party and an OBC outfit called Mahan Dal.

In Maharashtra, both the BJP and Congress have formidable allies in Shiv Sena and NCP, respectively. The party sends 48 Lok Sabha members to Parliament.

In Haryana, which has 10 Lok Sabha seats, the BSP has tied up with INLD, while the Congress and BJP battle it out on their own strength. In Punjab, the BJP-Akali Dal alliance will fight the ruling Congress in the state for 13 Lok Sabha seats.

As 2019 opens opportunities for regional parties, BSP supremo Mayawati, who never hid her national ambitions, is on an alliance-making spree.

After forging alliances in Haryana, Chhattisgar and Uttar Pradesh, her party on Monday announced a tie-up with the Samajwadi Party in Madhya Pradesh and Uttarakhand as well.

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