Why the Opposition's 'Grand Alliance' can be good news for the BJP
The politics of alliances is not only undesirable but also frequently, ill-fated. Then why do parties get into these?
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The approach of general elections has heated up political debates in the country. The prospect of a 'grand alliance' has especially captivated everyone's attention. Though political pundits have extensively discussed its feasibility, they have refrained from examining its desirability.
This article, in contrast, ponders over the latter while elucidating the reasons for forming a pre-poll alliance and its aftermath.
Primarily, there are three reasons which compel a party to fuse itself into an alliance.
The most common is to save itself from losing ground. Although initially, the results may turn out to be favourable, in the end, this alliance further marginalises the party by allowing a probable challenger in form of the alliance partner to establish a firm footing.
Consequently, the disillusioned voters find a suitable substitute in the ally. Furthermore, the ideologically committed supporters also prefer it as they find it a new ebullient force in the same ideological spectrum, with a more promising future.
The most compelling examples of this are the INC's alliances with the DMK in Tamil Nadu and with the BSP in UP, which effaced it from these states in subsequent years and established the other two as strong regional players.
Another alliance worth mentioning here is the Shiv Sena and BJP, where the growth of the latter marginalised the once-dominant partner, the Shiv Sena.
The Shiv Sena and BJP alliance did not turn out be too great for the former. (Photo: PTI)
Likewise, the second incentive for forging an alliance is getting into power quickly.
If this party is the minor partner with no cadre, it ends up becoming an insignificant player because the victory is either an outcome of the alliance or of the well-established partner. Since it has no underpinning of its own, it becomes reliant on the benevolence of its ally.
Notwithstanding its win, this is why the INC ended up as a nonentity in the Mahagathbandhan in Bihar as the JDU and the RJD were the mainstream parties. Similarly, Apna Dal, which allied with the BJP in UP, is facing the same eventuality. In case the party concerned is the one with greater influence, then, by constituting the alliance, it allows a likely opponent to grow right under its nose.
As conventional wisdom opines, the absence of opportunity extinguishes ability. Thus, the alliance provides the party’s prospective rival, i.e., its ally, that opening. If the latter possesses ability – a well-organised cadre, it seizes this chance to establish itself.
This is what Orissa is witnessing, where the ascent of its former alliance partner, the BJP, is becoming a concern for the BJD. Moreover, in an alliance, there is a likelihood of a rebellion due to the personal ambitions of individuals. A classic example of such rebellion was seen in the Janata Party, which ended as a consequence of Charan Singh's intimate aspiration when he sought the support of Indira Gandhi to become the Prime Minister himself. The Mahagathbandhan also terminated in the same fashion when Nitish Kumar reverted to the BJP for his political gain.
Welcome back: The alliance between the JDU and RJD ended when Nitish Kumar reverted to the BJP. (Photo: PTI)
Essentially, parties coalesce into an alliance with the intention of consolidating votes but it’s not an assurance in every situation. As a matter of fact, the results are counterproductive if the partners don't have a correlative vote bank. Not to mention, when Mulayam Singh joined hands with Kalyan Singh, he paid the price as the latter has an anti-Muslim image.
By the same token, the INC-CPI(M) alliance in Bengal faced a humiliating defeat.
Here, the cadre of the two parties lacked enthusiasm as these two parties had a bitter rivalry in the past which, at times, had resulted in bloodshed.
In a similar manner, the recent alliance of the INC with the TDP in Telangana went down like a lead balloon because of TDP's anti-Telangana image.
Finally, the last rationale, which at times conceives an inconceivable unity, is to check the advancement of a formidable rival.
Smiles, but also miles: The Mahagathbandhan has a long way to go, with several challenges along the way. (Photo: PTI)
This is the most important of all the points made so far as this will be the driving force for the inception of the Grand Alliance.
When an alliance successfully triumphs over such an opponent, it comes under immense pressure to deliver as there is no significant disillusionment among people against their adversary. In case the alliance fails to deliver, voters tend to revert to the opponent with greater force.
The most compelling evidence of this is Indira Gandhi's return with a greater majority after the Janata Party government failed. Therefore, if this alliance somehow manages to defeat the BJP, it too will be under extreme pressure to deliver and its failure will further strengthen the latter. If politicians in this Grand Alliance continue their archaic politics, people will once again place their faith in BJP.
Hence, in conclusion, this alliance is not only undesirable but also ill-fated.