Setback to I.N.D.I.A.

Two significant incidents on Tuesday appear to have pushed the much- trumpeted and newly-formed Indian National Democratic Inclusive Alliance (I.N.D.I.A) bloc onto the back foot. While the first shock came from the court dismissing the petition challenging the Centre’s Delhi Ordinance, the second was from the most influential Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar. He was slammed by other I.N.D.I.A. members for sharing the dais in Pune with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The Maratha strongman, known as a good strategist in gobbling up Opposition parties, however discredited they may be, will have a lot of explanation to do over his decision to accept the invitation to share the stage with the PM. Otherwise, he too is accused for buying peace with the Centre to escape from the alleged money laundering cases he and his party are facing. These two developments leave bitter taste among the anti-Modi brigade, if one may say so. Added to that was the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) announcing its decision to support the Delhi Ordinance in Parliament,  leading to a clear, if not emphatic, victory for the ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA), in both the Houses. This decision, though was expected, leaves the I.N.D.I.A bloc high and dry. Amidst these developments, some pertinent questions that arise are: How long this alliance can sustain as elections to the Lok Sabha elections are just eight-nine months away? Will it have any bearing on the assembly polls due later this year? How many among the satraps of this group, especially the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), Trinamool Congress (TMC) and Samajwadi Party, were willing to face the humiliation from the treasury benches on its no confidence motion move? Although they may thump their chests claiming that they could succeed in forcing Modi, their most hated person, to participate in the debate, yet can they dare face him as he may go ballistic against them seizing the opportunity? What sort of message do they wish to send to the electorate ahead of the general elections battle? Aren’t they going to expose themselves for their misdeeds, which the PM will use to the hilt to tear the Opposition apart? Are they not going to repent as this no confidence motion debate opens all the misdeeds committed by the Congress and Left parties in the northeastern states, especially in Manipur? By clinging onto power despite internal bickerings, the possible exposures by the treasury benches, especially the PM, are bound to have an impact in the Congress-ruled states like Rajasthan and Chattisgarh.

As a result, the debate is going to lead to the disintegration of the alliance as parties like the  SP,  AAP and TMC, may find alternative ways to take on the mighty BJP, in a bid to ensure their survival. Not to forget what happened in the 2019 Lok Sabha, when the entire Opposition made a similar attempt. The worst sufferer was the TMC, which was forced to concede 18 Lok Sabha seats of the 42 to the BJP. So was the SP and Bahujan Samaj Party in Uttar Pradesh. And the AAP, which is hoping against hopes to open its account in the Lok Sabha, riding high on its landslide victory in the state polls not so long ago. Apart from these three parties, the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) too may be forced to re-strategize its future political path as its opponents, the combine of All-India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam-BJP, will strive to make a dent in its Lok Sabha seats tally, to prove the ruling party’s waning popularity. Added to that, almost all these party leaders are facing serious money laundering cases and the PM made his party’s determination to come down heavily on them ahead of the general elections. This leaves the fence-sitters like the National Conference headed by Farooq Abdullah and the Janata Dal-S of Deve Gowda, who may opt for greener pastures in their states. Although, other regional parties like the Telugu Desam Party of Chandrababu Naidu, are on the wane yet more than anxious to return to the NDA fold from which it chose to walkout before the 2019 elections. So are the Shiromani Akali Dal, or JDS, besides other small parties, waiting for an opportune time to return to the NDA fold.

As far as neutral parties like the BJD led by Naveen Patnaik and Yuvajana Sramika Rythu Congress Party headed by YS Jaganmohan Reddy, continue to be in NDA’s ‘good books’, as they have been extending support to the Centre when needed. Of these two leaders, Jaganmohan Reddy is facing serious graft charges, pending prosecution. How his magnanimity to bail the NDA out at crucial times since 2019, may be considered as an excuse to pardon him, indeed depend much on the latter’s reciprocal attitude. Meanwhile, on realizing its limitations, the name-changed party like the Bharat Rashtra Samiti (BRS) from Telangana Rashtra Samiti of Kalvakuntla Chandrasekhar Rao (KCR) in a bid to become a national party, has decided to keep equal distance from both the NDA and the  I.N.D.I.A bloc. And, the Kalvakuntla family redraws its priorities only to retain power in Telengana, which has become more tough than ever before, as the Congress is riding high on back-to-back victories – first in Himachal Pradesh and later in the neighbouring Karnataka – emerging as a real challenger for the first time since the state formation in 2014, to have forced KCR to mellow down his tirade against Modi and his party at the Centre. Many political analysts suspect  this invisible ‘bonhomie’ to prevent Congress from having any advantage over them.

Social media is abuzz with some surveys giving a clear edge to Congress against the BJP and the ruling BRS. Political analysts also attribute the Central agency’s decision to ‘go slow’ on KCR’s daughter Kavitha in the Delhi multi-crore liquor policy scam, to drive home their point of  suspicious bonhomie that surfaced between these two parties, though not so openly. What do all these political developments indicate? One may have to recall none other than Arvind Kejriwal as well as the TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee’s sharp warnings not so long ago. If Kejriwal made no bones to declare that a defeat of the Delhi Ordinance challenge in the Rajya Sabha for the Opposition may prove no challenger to the Modi-Amit Shah juggernaut in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections, then Mamata went a step ahead that the failure of the I.N.D.I.A bloc and failure to fight the BJP in 2024, maybe end of the road for all and sundry in this country. How far have these two leaders’ warnings become a reality? One will know before the end of this Monsoon Session of Parliament!