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How Congress leaders' 'arrogance', BSP's politicking helped BJP alliance to return to power

By Divesh Ranjan, Sandeep Pandey* 

There are celebrations in the opposition circles that Bhartiya Janata Party has not been able to reach the half way mark to form the government and will be dependent on coalition partners to run the next government. It is being expected that alliance partners will exert some influence on the BJP to check its unbridled way of functioning where it does not even consult its own legislators. 
However, the fact is that we’ll have to bear Narendra Modi and his brand of politics for another five years. More likely than not he and Amit Shah will use the strong arm tactics to keep the alliance partners ‘disciplined’ rather than allow them any democratic space for negotiations. Let us examine if the situation could have been different had the opposition parties played their part well.
From before the assembly elections in five states last year a call was given to all opposition parties to come together on a platform to defeat the autocratic BJP. A grand name of Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance was give to the alliance and it was launched with pomp and show. 
However, in the assembly elections itself Congress party refused to respect the alliance and went into them alone. Then Nitish Kumar and Jayant Chaudhary left the alliance. After breaking Shiv Sena, BJP was also able to break Nationalist Congress Party of Sharad Pawar. Prakash Ambedkar walked out of the I.N.D.I.A. with his party Vanchit Bahujan Aaghadi in Maharashtra. 
And when the time came for Lok Sabha elections, All India Trinmool Congress, Aam Aadmi Party and Congress Party decided to go their own way in West Bengal, Punjab and Kerala, respectively, and for some strange reason Samajwadi Party which was courting Azad Samaj Party till before the elections decided to dump it. 
Unable to present a united picture I.N.D.I.A. failed to attract Bahujan Samaj Party into its fold, which played a significant role in reducing the number of seats which the alliance could have won with BSP’s support.
Assuming that roughly all votes which went to them would have been transferred to the alliance, if BSP and ASP were included in I.N.D.I.A. Samajwadi Party would have won 12 more seats – Akbarpur, Aligarh, Bijnor, Domariyaganj, Farrukhabad, Hardoi, Meerut, Mirzapur, Mishrikh, Phoolpur, Shahjahanpur and Unnao. 
If Indian National Congress had got BSP’s support it would have won Amroha, Bansgaon, Deoria and Fatehpur Sikri – 4 more seats. And with BSP’s support in Badhohi, Trinmool Congress would have done wonders to claim a seat outside West Bengal!
In West Benal itself AITC would have gained as many as 6 seats – Balurghat, Bishnupur, Maldaha, Purulia, Raiganj and Tamluk if it had the support of INC, Commmunit Party of India (Marxist) and Revolutionary Socialist Party (India), all alliance partners otherwise.
In Maharashtra if I.N.D.I.A. would have been able to keep Prakash Ambedkar with it, INC would have won the Akola seat and Uddhav Thakre’s Shiv Sena would have won the Buldhana, Hatkanangale and Mumbai North West seats, all four from Eknath Shinde’s Shiv Sena.
In Chhattisgarh if the I.N.D.I.A. was intact with CPI supporting INC and it had got the support of BSP, INC would have been able to win two more seats – Bastar and Kanker.
In Punjab AAP would have gained Bhatinda and Faridkot had INC supported it. And in Kerala BJP would not have been able to win the lone seat had Communist Party of India and INC fought the election together, CPI could have added one more seat to its kitty. 
Similarly, in Madhya Pradesh Congress would not have had to face the ignominy of not winning any seat at all if it would have got the support of BSP making it possible to win the Satna seat.
In summary the National Democratic Alliance would have been lesser by 31 seats, with BJP alone suffering a damage on 27 seats, had I.N.D.I.A. put its act together sincerely in UP, WB, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Kerala and MP. Fruther Shiv Sena would have been down by 3 seats. 
This would have brought the NDA tally which stands at 292 today below the half way mark of 272 that is required to form the government and today BJP would have been scrambling to cobble together a majority by trying to buy a number of independent candidates.
On the other hand adding the 2 Punjab seats the I.N.D.I.A. would have gained 33 seats which would have taken its tally of 232 today to 265, more than that of NDA’s figure of 261. 
Considering that Vishal Patil, the rebel Congress candidate who won as an independent from Sangli and has already offered his unconditional support to Congress, I.N.D.I.A. would have been five more seats than NDA and only six seats short of majority.
If Indian National Congress had got BSP’s support it would have won Amroha, Bansgaon, Deoria and Fatehpur Sikri
With both alliances below the half way mark, then it would have depended on other smaller parties like Yuvajana Sramika Rythu Congress Party, ASP (Kanshiram), All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen, Shiromani Akali Dal, Bharat Adivasi Party, Zoram People’s Movement, etc,, and 7 independents to extend support and form a government of whichever alliance was able to attract the required numbers. 
Looking at the ideological orientation of the smaller parties and independents it appears that I.N.D.I.A. rather than NDA would have stood a better chance to form the government.
Hence the blame for missing the bus entirely rests with I.N.D.I.A. leaders, especially the Congress leadership who in their arrogance did not even take other alliance partners along in the Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra or hold joint rallies before elections. 
Only towards the later half of the campaign Rahul Gandhi and Akhilesh Yadav started holding the kind of rallies which should have been organized with the involvement of other alliance parties and in other parts of India too since well before the elections.
The credit some people are giving to the Congress Party for a good performance of I.N.D.I.A., it doesn’t deserve. Whereas three alliance partners alone - Samajwadi Party, All India Trinmool Congress and Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam won 88 seats compared to its 99, the Indian National Congress could win, among the bigger states, more than half the seats it contested only in Kerala, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Punjab and Haryana, Its best performance was 14 seats in Kerala. 
Hence, we cannot say that it came out with a stellar performance anywhere. It was average to mediocre performance in most states. After all compared to BJP fetching 36.56% of votes, INC could manage to get only 21.19%. 
 Out of 36 states and Union Territories it doesn’t have any representatives in the Lok Sabha from 13 of them. There is a big question mark on the status of second biggest and the oldest national party.
Hence, it is obvious that the lacklustre performance by Congress Party combined with the damage that Bahujan Samaj Party caused, especially to the Samajwadi Party, were two major factors responsible for preventing the formation of I.N.D.I.A. government to replace the Narendra Modi led government which was supposed to be the original objective when I.N.D.I.A. came into existence.
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*Divesh Ranjan is a Meghalaya based election expert and Sandeep Pandey is General Secretary, Socialist Party (India)

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