ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Governed by Realpolitik

The political costs of Narendra Modi force BJP's oldest ally to part ways.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is a major national party but its popularity is concentrated in the north and west of India. The party’s biggest achievement was its ability to form the government at the centre in 1998 and 1999 as the head of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), a grouping with ideologically disparate parties who provided the BJP with some amount of acceptability and credibility. Since their unexpected defeat in 2004, there has been a gradual erosion of the NDA with many parties leaving after realising that the BJP’s communal agenda provides diminishing returns – particularly following the 2002 Gujarat killings. Now, one of the BJP’s oldest allies, the Janata Dal (United) – JD(U) – has parted ways with the NDA, following the (as yet undeclared) projection of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi as the BJP’s (and by default the NDA’s) prime ministerial candidate for the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. The NDA is now limited to three parties – the BJP, the Akali Dal and the Shiv Sena and other much smaller parties .

In a polity where coalitions have become essential, the marginalisation of the BJP is stark. This is particularly so given the high levels of incompetence, corruption and unpopularity of the ruling Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA).

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