New Delhi: The Bharatiya Janata Party has firmed up its alliances in most of the key states, taking an early lead over the Congress, which is still struggling to strike seat sharing deals with its alliance partners. As a result of this, the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance is appearing as a more cohesive bloc than the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance.
This week, the BJP got a shot in the arm when its erstwhile alliance partner, Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) returned to the NDA fold. Similarly, the saffron party was able to placate the sulking Apna Dal in Uttar Pradesh, by offering it two seats. Accordingly, Apna Dal chief Anupriya Patel will contest from Mirzapur, while the second seat will be decided later. However, in UP, the BJP is yet to resolve issues with another regional outfit, Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party. But sources say that the Suheldev party may be given one seat and thus the BJP may contest on 77 of UP’s 80 seats.
In Assam, the Asom Gana Parishad, which had walked out of the NDA on the issue of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, has returned to the NDA fold. Another party from Assam which has joined the alliance there is Bodoland People’s Front (BPF). According to sources, the seat sharing formula in Assam will be finalised in a day or two.
With this, the BJP has more or less finalised seat-sharing deals with alliance partners in all the major states—JDU (Bihar), Shiv Sena (Maharashtra), AIADMK (Tamil Nadu), Shiromani Akali Dal (Punjab), AGP (Assam), All Jharkhand Students’ Union (Jharkhand) and Apna Dal (UP).
A BJP source said that by formalising its alliances with the AGP and BPF, the party will be able to consolidate the anti-Congress votes. In the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, when the AGP was not in the NDA, the BJP won seven out of Assam’s 14 Lok Sabha seats. Though the AGP could not win any seat, it got 3.87% of the votes and came third in Dibrugath, Lakhimpur and Jorhat constituencies. When in the 2016 Assembly elections, the BJP and AGP contested together, they won 60 and 14 seats, respectively, in the 126-member Assembly. The BPF won 12 seats.
In contrast, the Congress has finalised its seat sharing only in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. In Tamil Nadu, the Congress has got nine seats to contest from, while the DMK, along with some other regional parties, will contest on the remaining 30 seats. In Karnataka, while the Congress will contest from 20 seats, its alliance partner Janata Dal (Secular) will contest from eight seats.
In another important state, Bihar, the Congress, Rashtriya Janata Dal, Hindustani Awam Morcha and Rashtriya Lok Samata Party are yet to reach an agreement over the number of seats each party will contest from. Reports are coming of major differences in the bloc over seat sharing. Similar is the situation in neighbouring Jharkhand, where the Congress, Jharkhand Mukti Morcha, Jharkhand Vikas Morcha and Rashtriya Janata Dal have decided to contest the elections together and have announced the seat sharing deal as well, but subsequently, differences have cropped up over some of the seats. In Maharashtra, the Congress and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) are yet to arrive at an agreement over seat sharing.
The Samajwadi Party, the Bahujan Samaj Party and Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) have already announced their seat sharing deal in UP, excluding the Congress. In fact, they left only two seats for the Congress, which prompted the grand old party to announce that it would contest from all the 80 constituencies in the politically-significant state. In Delhi also, despite Aam Aadmi Party’s willingness to fight the elections with the Congress, the latter snubbed the idea and said it would contest all the seven seats alone. In fact Congress is now witnessing faction fights in Delhi on whether it should ally with the AAP or not.
However, the BJP has failed to seal alliances in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, though party leaders say some of the parties in these two states may move towards the NDA post the elections. Sources said Jagan Reddy’s YSR Congress and the Telengana Rashtriya Samiti may join the NDA, in case their support is needed.