After a round of general elections to five state Assemblies, 2019 will be the year of the big one, the Lok Sabha elections. The incumbent Narendra Modi government faces the challenges of retaining power and the Congress, the principal Opposition party, will try to unseat the PM. The National Democratic Alliance (NDA), led by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), is grappling with keeping its flock together as several of its partners have either parted ways or are threatening to do that. In 2014, NDA had 30 parties, including the BJP, and 336 Lok Sabha seats.
The seats are now down to 303 after the Telegu Desam Party (TDP), the largest NDA ally after BJP, walked out in March this year, and Rashtriya Lok Samta Party (RLSP) quit in December. BJP’s own stock has also dwindled in last 5 years as the Modi wave appears to have lost its magic, the recent drubbings in the three Hindi heartland states are the recent evidence. The party won 282 seats, its best performance ever, in 2014 but after a series of by-elections, the tally is now 268, which is 14 seats fewer. The Congress, on the other hand, is looking confident, especially after the recent wins, to forge a grand alliance of Opposition parties to take on Modi. TDP’s Chandrababu Naidu is already seen flanking Rahul Gandhi at important Opposition events.
The Shiv Sena, once touted be BJP’s natural ally, is playing more the role of Opposition than ally from within the government. But in Uttar Pradesh, the state with the biggest share of 80 seats in the lower house of Parliament, the two big regional parties, the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party, have announced to stay away of Congress grand alliance. Most of the regional satraps are mercurial and can jump ship whenever they see a political opportunity. That makes us wish 2019 is a year of political stability. Which party wins 2019 should win it conclusively so that the country can continue on the path of development instead of the government wasting time on keeping its partners in good humour to stay in office.