The opposition is floundering and has lost the wherewithal to take on BJP
President and vice-president elections that are underway have demonstrated two undeniable facts. After three years in power, despite the economy supposedly going through a majorly jobless growth phase, the ruling BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) is on an expansion spree. On the other hand, the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA), under Sonia Gandi and Rahul Gandhi, is yet to find its sense of purpose and wherewithal to take on prime minister Narendra Modi. By reaching out to big and small groups in person as part of presidential campaign, Modi has opened up new opportunities for the party in the southern states, eastern and northeastern regions. In their efforts to see Ramnath Kovind in Rashtrapati Bhavan as the first citizen, Modi and BJP president Amit Shah were largely successful with over 20 small and regional parties enlisting their support. For instance, the large non-NDA parties like three factions of AIADMK, Biju Janata Dal, Janata Dal United, Telangana Rashtra Samiti, YSR Congress have ALL voted for Kovind. Modi–Shah’s deft political manoeuvres have contributed to the vertical split in Samajwadi Party led by Akhilesh Yadav and his father Mulayam Singh Yadav. Mulayam and Shivpal’s faction voting for Kovind is a shot in the arm for the NDA. Similarly, one Congress MLA and five sacked legislators from Trinamol Congress in Tripura going the NDA way is a big surprise. Also, JDU’s Nitish Kumar and Lalu Yadav’s RJD that began to drift in the run up to the presidential race, accentuated further after serious corruption scandals engulfed Yadav and his family. Apart from finding new allies, BJP’s own expansion across length and breadth including the sensitive northeastern states has added to NDA’s ‘mojo’ raising serious doubts about a possible serious challenger to Modi in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. On the other hand, the shrinking rank and file in Congress-led UPA is testimony to the way political equations would pan out from here on. M Venkaiah Naidu’s ascension to vice presidency would not only give fillip to mission South for BJP, but may even pose a serious threat to the future of Congress government in Karnataka that’s reeling under corruption, nepotism and sweetheart deals under chief minister Siddiramaiah. Rajanikant’s entry into Tamil Nadu polity, serious fight for control in AIADMK and BJP’s big push is bound to turn the scene optimistic for the saffronites. Even in Kerala, the ruling Left alliance that’s firmly in the saddle has come under pressure after sex and corruption scandals came into the open. Here too, Congress would in all likelihood concede opposition space to BJP, that’s a fledgling party in the state. In West Bengal and North Eastern states like Manipur, Meghalaya and Mizoram, BJP’s likely to make inroads at the cost of Congress and local splinter groups. Leadership crisis in Congress and serious differences within opposition conglomeration may not make it easy to stop the Narendra Modi’s juggernaut. Unless, both factions of Samjwadi party and Mayawati’s BSP sink differences and take on board Ajit Singh’s Rashtriya Lok Dal with some space for Congress, Uttar Pradesh may continue to be BJP’s bastion. Similarly, the mahagatbhandan of Lalu Yadav and Nitish Kumar along with Congress will have to attempt a makeover to take on Modi for the second time in Bihar. In states like Madhya Pradesh, Chattisgarh and Rajasthan, the stakes for BJP are too high given that it has been power for 15-years in these three states. The ruling party will definitely be wary of a resurgent and rebooted Congress given that it’s a straight fight between the two without the third pole in these states. Elsewhere, the BJP’s firmly in command, given the high rankings for its star campaigner and vote mobiliser, Modi. For now, its Modinama unlimited.