Narendra Modi first 100 days (Part I): BJP spreads wings

Aug 31 2014, 23:36 IST
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SummaryThe BJP’s numbers in the Lok Sabha elections have redrawn political equations...

The BJP’s numbers in the Lok Sabha elections have redrawn political equations — got arch rivals to unite, arrested the growth of a few others and positioned the party as a prospective alternative in states where it didn’t stand a chance before.

LAST week, when the BJP called off its once “rock-solid” alliance with the Haryana Janhit Congress (HJC), it made another longstanding ally, the Shiv Sena, uneasy. The Maharashtra party, which has, until now, been used to setting the terms of the partnership, may have sensed an unsettling change in its ties with the BJP, its ally of 25 years.

Less than 100 days after it came to power with a landslide majority, the BJP has gone back to the drawing board, this time with a plan to trigger a political realignment in all the major states, especially those that are poll-bound.

The setting is perfect for the BJP. It’s in the saddle with an emphatic win (282 of 543 Lok Sabha seats) and its main opponent, the Congress, is still grappling with questions about its future. The BJP’s rise has got a few arch rivals to unite and stand up to the new political giant, arrested the growth of a few others and, above all, positioned the party as a prospective alternative in states where it never stood a chance before.

“The fantastic victory of the BJP has unnerved all parties. Now it has become a battle of survival for a number of political parties. They know that with leaders like Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah, the party cannot be stopped,” says BJP spokesperson G V L Narasimha Rao. “It is changing political lines and equations in all the states.”

J&K, Maharashtra, Haryana and Jharkhand will all see elections by the end of the year and so, for now, it’s these poll-bound states that will feel the heat of the BJP’s rise.

If the BJP had been playing second fiddle to the Shiv Sena in Maharashtra for decades, May 16 changed it all. In the last Assembly elections, the BJP contested 119 of the 288 seats and the Sena in 169, but as the alliance partners sit down to finalise seats for the elections, the regional party is contending with some muscle-flexing from the BJP. With the BJP already talking of contesting from 135 seats, the chances of Sena president Uddhav Thackeray becoming the chief ministerial candidate

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