The Prime Minister, who took pride in the time-tested alliance on his side, targeted the Opposition on corruption and dynasty
The BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) has sung its theme song for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections with the unequivocal announcement by Prime Minister Narendra Modi ahead of the 38-party meet in New Delhi on Tuesday that the ruling party will take on the Opposition, led by the Congress, on the plank of corruption and dynastic rule and will try and enlist the support of every possible ally.
The Prime Minister, who took pride in the time-tested alliance on his side, targeted the Opposition on corruption and dynasty as it serves two purposes. It can recall to public memory the allegations of corruption that filled the air when the Congress-led UPA was in power and can blunt the Opposition allegation that the ruling party is using Central investigation agencies to target them. It is incumbent on the BJP to explain to the people that the agencies are doing a professional job and that no one who indulged in corruption and stashed away people’s money will be spared.
The alliance can also remind the people that in contrast to the end of the UPA’s second term, the NDA leadership stands clear of allegations of financial corruption.
The NDA, which came to power in 1998, with Atal Behari Vajpayee at the helm was one of the broadest coalitions of political parties — it had in it socialists such as George Fernandes, Congress turncoats such as Mamata Banerjee, patriarch of Dravidian politics M. Karunanidhi and regional satraps such as N. Chandrababu Naidu. However, many of them parted ways in six years and the NDA lost power despite the promoters of the “Shining India” campaign assuring them easy victory.
The BJP leadership appears to have anticipated such a turn of events given that it has lost many of its powerful allies such as the Shiv Sena, the Akali Dal and the Janata Dal (United). True, it has earned some other powerful allies such as the AIADMK and the Shiv Sena faction led by Maharashtra chief minister Eknath Shinde and NCP’s Ajit Pawar but it is not yet sure how much these parties will be able to contribute to the kitty when the final count of the members of the next Lok Sabha is taken.
The BJP is known for its meticulous and grassroots-level calculation when it comes to elections. It is not for no reason that the party is wooing minor players such as Chirag Paswan and Jitan Ram Manjhi in Bihar as well as Om Prakash Rajbhar in Uttar Pradesh, while keeping all its allies such as the AIADMK in good humour. The party would have a plan or two for each of the 543 constituencies and will rope in every formation, however small, to contribute to its results.
It remains to be seen how a grand coalition will help the NDA set the narrative for the next election. It could require all the communications skills of Mr Modi and the organisational might of the BJP to paper over concerns over social and financial stability as well as the constitutional vibrancy of the country.