January 19 witnessed the United India rally, hosted by the West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. A united opposition front against the BJP, this rally is just one of the many battle horns before the Lok Sabha elections ensue. However, the 2019 Lok Sabha elections have several big shots competing for the final win. With many eyes on the throne, who will manage to grab the final prize? First, let’s take a look at the game changes of this season.
National Democratic Alliance (NDA)
The ruling alliance in the country, NDA is hoping to come out of the Lok Sabha elections with a second win. Despite losing three main Hindi heartland states to Congress in the state assembly elections recently, BJP still enjoys its fair share of popularity in the country. The question is, will it be enough to grand the saffron party-led NDA a second chance.
According to a latest India TV-CNX opinion poll, NDA, although still at the top, might fall 15 seats short of a majority in the Lok Sabha elections. While granting NDA 257 seats, the same poll put UPA (excluding SP ansd BSP) a total of 146 seats. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is now launching into the final stages of forging alliances. In Bihar, for instance, the Janata Dal (United) will be sharing 34 out of 40 seats with BJP. JD(U) is currently in power in the state.
United Progressive Alliance (UPA)
After the 2014 assembly elections, it seemed like the Indian National Congress (INC) and UPA both had hit a dead end. The INC had lost its votebse, with UPA only managing to secure 60 out of the 543 Lok Sabha seats. However, the Congress party has slowly made its comeback in the country, with its latest thumping victory being one proof.
In the December 2018 state assembly elections, while Congress lost Mizoram, it managed to snatch Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan out of BJP’s hold. There are still a few glitches in the way, however. While SP and BSP extended their support to Congress for establishing a government in Rajasthan and MP, the duo has kept the national party out of its alliance in Uttar Pradesh. For the Lok Sabha elections, Yadav and Mayawati have reportedly left the seats of Amethi and Raebareli for Congress, but haven’t included it in the main seat-sharing equation. Now, it will be a tricky situation for UPA. In case it doesn’t contest from the remaining seats in UP, it will lose out on a potential hold and vote bank of perhaps the most crucial Indian state. However, if it does contest, it will likely lose hopes of BSP and SP extending any support post elections.
Akhilesh Yadav-Mayawati (BSP-SP Alliance)
After keeping INC outside their coalition equation, the duo has made it clear that it will be playing a crucial role in the national elections this time around. The state of Uttar Pradesh (UP) is considered to be the epicentre of the Lok Sabha battle. And, rightly so. With 80 seats, UP holds the largest chunk of the lower house within its periphery. Samajwadi Party (SP) and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) both enjoy significant popularity in the northern state. Not only that, Mayawati has served four separate terms as the Chief Minister, while Akhilesh Yadav has spent one.
Their base in UP is strong, which will pose worries for the ruling party, not to mention, for the Indian National Congress (INC). The regional parties, keeping aside their old grudges and differences, have decided to join hands for the Lok Sabha elections. They also have Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) in the seat-sharing, while conveniently keeping Congress out.
Kalvakuntla Chandrashekar Rao (KCR)
Having already rejected BJP for a prospective alliance, the KCR-led Telangana Rashtra Samithi has started paving a new path towards the Lok Sabha. The aim is to put up a “non-BJP, non-Congress” alliance. After a strong win in the state assembly elections, KCR has set his eyes on the target, already initiating a political tour of the country. The Telangana CM has already met the AITC chief and West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee, Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik. Rao’s son KT Rama Rao recently met YS Jagan Mohan Reddy, the president of YSR Congress party and the leader of opposition in Andhra Pradesh. KCR already enjoys the support of AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi.
There have been some uncertainties surrounding his meeting with Akhilesh Yadav and Mayawati, with the latter two showing slight apprehensions. However, the Telangana CM enjoys significant popularity in the south, as well as, in the rest of the country.
Mamata Banerjee (AITC)
The AITC chief Mamata Banerjee, or didi as she is popularly called, has a huge number of faithful followers in West Bengal. Her popularity on the national front, as well, is to the extent that many see her as a third alternative in the “Modi vs Rahul” battle for the post of Prime Minister.
Banerjee’s United India rally brought together national leaders from 23 opposition parties, declaring a common front against the Modi government. While the Congress chief himself wasn’t present, Rahul Gandhi sent his written support, as well as, two major Congress leaders to be a part of the rally- Mallikarjun Kharge and Abhishek Manu Singhvi. Other leaders in the rally included big names like Farooq Abdullah (National Conference), Sharad Pawar (Nationalist Congress Party), M K Stalin (DMK party) etc.
As the days of Lok Sabha elections come nearer, the energy levels have become more tense in our political playgrounds. While the national parties will play a decisive factor in the polls, it will be a mistake to undermine the regional power holders. Whether it will be NDA or UPA in power this time around, or a new “non-BJP, non-Congress” front will emerge from the shadows, it will be interesting to watch the scenes unfold.
What do you think the scenario will be? Let us know in the comments below!