Will BJP’s attempts to now repair relations with allies work?

Rohit Chandavarkar
Tuesday, 5 June 2018

Alliance partners have been hurt and felt left out in the past four years, because after winning election after election, the BJP started thinking that they are invincible and they do not need any of the smaller partners any more.

Whatever any political analyst says about BJP national president Amit Shah, one thing that must be accepted about this leader is that he has political acumen, the flexibility to change and he tirelessly works in his party’s interest. These two points got highlighted in the past few days because after sensing the BJP’s debacle in recent bypolls, sensing that the party’s popularity is on the downslide, Amit Shah has taken up a fresh initiative to meet all alliance partners who had been somewhat sidelined earlier because of his own aggressive style of functioning.

Alliance partners have been hurt and felt left out in the past four years, because after winning election after election, the BJP started thinking that they are invincible and they do not need any of the smaller partners any more. But first the developments happening after recent assembly polls in Karnataka and then the bypoll results have now made it clear that the BJP will have very big challenges to face in the 2019 general elections.

Looking at this, Amit Shah is now seen undertaking a major damage control exercise, reaching out to BJP’s allies and trying to repair the bruised relations. Shah is coming to Mumbai to meet Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray on Wednesday. The proposed meeting has sparked many speculations over whether the estranged alliance partners are on the way to patch up again.

“Amit Shah sought time to meet Uddhavji. Accordingly, an appointment for tomorrow evening has been given to him,” Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut told reporters. The BJP chief is in Mumbai for a ‘Sampark for Samarthan’ or mass contact programme, one of his outreach efforts ahead of the 2019 national election.

The Sena has been attacking the BJP in its mouthpiece Saamana. “The country is in a state of mind that it can accept the Congress or (Janata Dal Secular’s HD) Deve Gowda but not PM Modi and Amit Shah,” said Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut in a trenchant editorial. “The Shiv Sena is the biggest political enemy of the BJP. The Sena’s radical Hinduism would prove problematic for the BJP,” he wrote in party mouthpiece ‘Saamana’.

Raut also accused the BJP of using its resources to defeat the Sena in Palghar while “staying in power with the Sena’s help.”

Now on this backdrop what will Amit Shah say to Thackeray? Will the Sena come around? Will they forget the humiliation and past differences? Those are the questions being asked.

But Shah is not just worried about Maharashtra. He has trouble in Uttar Pradesh too. Yogi Adityanath, the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, on Tuesday met with Shah, their first meeting after last week’s bypolls defeat in the state. There was no official comment on the meeting, but sources told media that the BJP chief asked Yogi Adityanath for reasons behind the bypoll losses.

The bypoll was viewed as a test of unity for parties aiming at challenging the BJP in the 2019 national polls. The meeting took place against the backdrop of dissent from within the party including some MPs and legislators, over the functioning of the state government. The BJP swept the elections in UP in 2014 in the country’s most politically vital state, winning 71 of 80 Lok Sabha seats. Along with allies, it ended up with a tally of 73. However, the score has come down after the recent bypoll losses.

The BJP is also reaching out to Akali Dal and to Telagu Desam Party asking them what can be done to keep the National Democratic Alliance intact and running. 

It’s obvious that the BJP leadership has now toned down its aggression and wants to sound polite to the allies in view of polls being 11 months away, but the question is will the alliance partners now accept these friendly proposals or be adamant?

MAN WITH A PLAN
The BJP is also reaching out to Shiv Sena, Akali Dal and to Telagu Desam Party asking them what can be done to keep the NDA intact and running. It’s obvious that the BJP leadership has now toned down its aggression and wants to sound polite to the allies. But will this proposal of renewing the friendship be accepted by the alliance partners is the big question. Amit Shah has taken up a fresh initiative to meet all alliance partners who had been somewhat sidelined earlier because of his own aggressive style of functioning.

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