The decision of the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) to call off its ten-year-old alliance with the BJP over seat-sharing in Orissa in the coming general elections throws a major spanner in the NDA works—and in the prime ministerial ambitions of Lalchand Kishinchand Advani.
At a time when pundits and surveys are agreed that neither the Congress nor the BJP are likely to achieve the 272-mark on their own, in fact probably not even together, the BJD move straightaway puts the NDA on the backfoot in Orissa, where there are 21 seats on offer.
Together, the BJP and BJD were expected to take between 13 and 18 seats in that State. With NDA reported to be behind the UPA nationally, even in the eyes of analysts sympathetic of the BJP like Arun Nehru (graphic, below), can the BJP make up the Orissa shortfall on its own, or make it up elsewhere in the country?
As a report in The Times of India notes:
“In one stroke, it [the BJD move] has upset BJP’s plans to emerge as leader of the biggest combination post-poll, while breathing life into the fresh power project of the Third Front which, interestingly, will be formed only on Thursday [March 12]. Apart from the loss of an ally which was expected to help the party win majority of the 21 Lok Sabha seats from Orissa yet again, the BJP has been set back also in terms of perception.”
Three caveats are in order. Caveat No. 1, politics is not a zero-sum game. Caveat No. 2, predictions have gone awfully wrong before and could do so again. Caveat No. 3, the Congress-led UPA too could see alliance partners walking away, levelling the playing field so to speak.
Still, at this juncture, it is safe to say that the BJP has far more invested in a “regime-change” that will install Advani at the helm. Indeed, in some ways, it is difficult to predict what shape and form the BJP is likely to take if it has to spend another five years on the Opposition benches after such a high-pitched campaign.
Question: At this rate, and at this point in time, does L.K. Advani look like realising his dream of becoming the prime minister of India? Or is he destined to finish second?
Graphic: courtesy Deccan Chronicle
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