‘If AAP Fails To Deliver, Punjabis Will Never Forgive It’

Jashan Gill, a Punjab voter who defied family loyalties to pick AAP over Akali Dal and Congress, says the party stands at a juncture from where it can make or break its future

In 2014 General Election, it was for the first time that I voted for the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). Punjab has been enthusiastic about the party since its inception. And this was the reason, four AAP candidates were elected to the Lok Sabha on their debut contest from the state.

In the assembly election of 2017, the AAP emerged as the main opposition with 20 seats. And now, in 2022, eight years since its journey began in Punjab, the party has been able to form government in the state with a clear mandate. Punjab’s voters found them as a viable alternative to the Congress and the Shiromani Akali Dal.

This change was impending for long. Both the SAD and the Congress had been unable to fulfil the expectations of the people of Punjab. The border regions of the state have been infested with drugs menace and there is widespread belief that the SAD has a vested interest in it. During their rule, the corruption in the state also reached at its zenith.

Punjabis therefore rooted out the Badal government in 2017 in favour of the Congress. But the Congress didn’t fulfil its promises either. Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh became too complacent after the win and forgot about his poll promises of development.

The situation at the party further deteriorated when inside scuffle broke out in the open, making it a laughing stock. The chaos was too much to bear. Even during election people didn’t know who would be the chief minister of the state if the Congress came to the power.

Gill (left) says Punjab has high expectations from Bhagwant Mann and Arvind Kejriwal

This clearly turned people’s attention towards the AAP leadership. The party projected Bhagwant Mann as the chief ministerial candidate in the state election and the decision found favour with the voters. For, in the past eight years, since 2014 general election, Mann has done commendable work in his constituency and showed his commitment towards the people. It was no surprise that Punjab gave him a chance to work for the entire state.

ALSO READ: Punjab Will Reclaim It Glory Under AAP Leadership

We have already started witnessing the change since AAP came to power in the state. The first priority of the party, which was about stopping corruption has already been enforced. The government employees, who would brazenly ask for bribes earlier, are now scared of making such demands from people. They are afraid of stern actions now.

The conditions of hospitals and schools in the state is already showing improvement. You can visit a hospital and feel the change in the atmosphere. We believe that Mann government will also address the issue of drugs soon. Farmers too have a lot of expectations from this new government. They believe that the AAP leadership will find a solution to receding water table and provide minimum support price for all their crops.

If the party successfully fulfils its promise in the state, it will pave a path for the party to emerge as an alternative to the BJP in other states and eventually at the Centre. As an AAP supporter I hope that it emerges as a challenger in states like Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh and Haryana where elections are likely to happen late this year.

AAP is standing at a crucial juncture in Punjab from where it can write its own future. Punjabis have put their faith in AAP and if they fail to keep their promises, the people will never forgive them. It will be uprooted from the state once and for all. The people of Punjab have voted for development and they will not settle for anything except development.

As told to Md Tausif Alam

‘Punjab Will Rise And Flourish Again’

Tejinder Singh, 60, district president (Jalandhar) of Aam Aadmi Party, says party office is flooded with calls from people to act as volunteers

I have been associated with the Aam Aadmi Party since 2016 and I feel very elated that the people of Punjab have given us such an overwhelming majority in state Assembly. It will help us to bring about required changes in the state now easily. People are super happy too because everyone wanted change, logon ko azadi mil gayi hai.

Earlier governance was moving at a snail’s pace and the common man’s work would languish. But people have put their faith in AAP because they know we care, after all our candidates are all ordinary folks, people who understands concerns of the common man.

Our whole office was abuzz with extraordinary energy on the day the results were declared. Sweets were distributed among the party workers and we met up and congratulated each other. We had expected a good performance but we had not expected such a humongous response to our efforts. I feel satisfied that we were able to convince people to give us a chance to genuinely serve them, especially in the area of education, healthcare etc.

Tejinder Singh (in yellow turban) celebrates party win in Assembly elections

We started door to door campaigning nearly 2.5 years ago and actively listened to the concerns of the people from every section of society. People have voted beyond caste and community lines for good governance. After all at the end of the day everyone wants to feel secure about basic facilities, which we are determined to provide. Be it rural or urban areas, we reached out and people responded.

ALSO READ: ‘Punjab Will Reclaim Its Glory Under AAP’

Every day hundreds of calls are pouring in and people want to volunteer for us; people love the idea of being a part of governance. The good work done in Delhi served as a point of reference for most voters, however it wouldn’t be wise to say that the socio-economic concerns of the two states are the same. Issues like drug menace will take longer to uproot and lots of local leaders will need to step up.  

We are determined to help Punjab flourish once again. When the farmers protests were going on we didn’t lose sight of many other concerns that were equally important and I am glad that we have got the votes of farmers as well. People were determined to vote for change this time no matter what and iss bar sabnein ankhein khol ke vote diya.

One of the reasons people also trusted the AAP was because of our groundwork during the pandemic as well as during the vaccination stage. We got ourselves vaccinated first so that people could see it was safe and that it worked. We hope to continue with the same leadership style; we will face the problems first head on so that they don’t reach common people.

The BJP, Akali Dal, Congress will now understand how important it is to connect with people at an emotional level. We believe the Aam Aadmi Party government led by Bhagwant Mann will usher Punjab towards a golden future.

As Told To Yog Maya Singh

‘Punjab Will Reclaim Its Glory Under AAP Leadership’

Anu Mann, an AAP supporter in Chandigarh, says the party leaders are grounded and have a connect with the people, unlike its erstwhile rulers

At 54 years of age, my generation has grown up with Punjab. I have witnessed Punjab at its peak during the Green Revolution and then at its lowest during the turbulent 80s. Things started looking somewhat bright during the 1990s but by mid-2000s they took a turn for the worse again.

From being the breadbasket of the country, we the Punjabis gradually began losing our identity as a prosperous state to ‘Udta Punjab’. Drug abuse began taking hold in almost every family. Villages after village lost their youth and men to the drug menace with women left behind to pick up the pieces, industries slowed down, corruption rose up, education took a hit, and Punjabis began leaving for greener pastures like Canada.

With Aam Aadmi Party’s electoral sweep, a hope has been rekindled that we have turned the corner. Punjab will reclaim its glory; we shall flourish again.

Personally, I feel liberated. I have travelled and lived around the country, but one always wants to come back to the roots. I used to feel sad at the sheer level of corruption, lack of jobs and good education, the lazy leadership, especially that of Captain Amarinder Singh who never mingled much with people. Sidhu has been and remains a crass leader.

Mann says she has grown up with Punjab and seen both its low point and high point

I had given up all hopes of a good leadership taking root in Punjab until AAP brought in its refreshing governance style. Of course the road for the Bhagwant Mann-led government is going to be long and difficult but given how they have managed Delhi, I have high hopes for Punjab in the coming years. I have myself worked at a summer teaching programme of AAP in Delhi government schools and I was impressed how AAP involves ordinary people in their governance apparatus.

ALSO READ: Now, Punjab Has A Future

This election result saw seasoned political personalities humiliated by common, first-time contestants (like mobile shop owner Labh Singh who defeated Channi). I feel the happiest about the victory of Jeevan Jyot Kaur who defeated Majithia and Navjot Sidhu because women’s issues will now get the spotlight. There are 13 doctors who have been elected as MLAs; they will definitely feel the pulse of the people, both literally and metaphorically.

Bhagwant Mann’s passionate involvement, unlike Amarinder Singh’s ivory tower life, in everyday matters of the state is a refreshing change. AAP ke sare candidates dharti se jude hue log hain, samaj se jude hue log hain (AAP leaders have an ear to the ground, they have a connect with the masses).

All in all, the victory of AAP in Punjab is truly the victory of ordinary people. AAP’s campaigning was also totally fuss-free, they neither disturbed nor bribed voters, maybe other parties would do well to learn from them.

Mann in a celebratory mood after AAP victory

I was so happy and excited on the day of election results that I distributed mithais, made a celebratory dance video and sent it to my loved ones. And I couldn’t stop talking to my friends about how happy I was. Mann needs a lot of cooperation from people and I hope the janta will give it to him.

Who Will Win Punjab?

Past record shows that the outcome of the Municipal Corporation elections in Chandigarh, the joint capital of Punjab, has no impact on the Assembly elections which follow a little later in the state.

This time, however, there is an important takeaway from the Corporation elections held a couple of months before the Assembly elections in Punjab. The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) emerged as the largest party for the first time in any elections outside Delhi. The party, which is making a determined attempt to wrest power in Punjab, has received a major boost with its cadres gaining confidence that it can win elections outside the national capital.

Another important factor in the Corporation elections was the multiplicity of contests. Besides the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, the Congress, the AAP, the Shiromani Akali Dal, a large number of independents in the fray had made it a multi-cornered contest with comparatively small number of electors in each ward. In at least five wards the margin of victory was only in double digits.

The coming elections in Punjab too are set to be multi-cornered contests with the emergence of the alliance between Capt Amarinder Singh and BJP, the SAD-BSP alliance, the Congress, the AAP and now also the Kisan Samaj Morcha formed by farmers’ organisations, besides the independents. The current possibility of five-cornered contests would definitely leave the field wide open with various parties eating into each other’s vote banks and making the task of predicting the outcome a near impossibility.

It is in this context that an analysis of the past electoral trends would be significant and relevant to the ensuing elections.

For over three decades, the state had witnessed a straight contest between the SAD and the Congress. This changed last time when the AAP entered the fray and changed the political equations. Several electoral surveys had predicted an AAP victory given the disenchantment with the other two political parties.

The Congress emerged victorious with a thumping majority of 77 seats out of a total of 117 at stake thanks to a large extent to the division of votes in the three-cornered contest. SAD won 15 seats (besides three by its alliance partner BJP) against the tally of 20 for the AAP and two for its alliance partner. But what’s significant is that the SAD finished second in no less than 43 seats while AAP finished second only in 26 seats. Akalis got lesser number of seats than AAP but received more votes.

ALSO READ: Farm Laws – Winners, Losers And The Future

SAD got 25.3 per cent of the total votes polled as against AAP’s 23.8 per cent. Add to that the 5.4 per cent votes polled by the then SAD’s alliance partner, the BJP. They together polled 37 per cent votes against 38.5 per cent by Congress. Akalis contested on 94 seats compared to 112 by AAP and still got 1.5 per cent higher vote share than AAP. Same is true for Congress. Both in 2007 and 2012 when it lost elections to the SAD-BJP combine, Congress posted a vote share of over 40 per cent.

It is in this context that the pre-poll scenario needs to be analysed with five-cornered contests on the anvil. The ruling Congress, which rocked its own boat by changing the chief minister just six months before the elections, is facing an internal crisis. Its unpredictable state party chief Navjot Singh Sidhu continues to take pot-shots at the party’s own government and chief minister Charanjit Singh Channi.

In the given short time the new chief minister is coming out with a flurry of announcements which lack credibility while some of the sitting legislators are quitting the party anticipating denial of tickets. Even as the 56-member election committee supposed to send its recommendations to the party high command for final selection of candidates is yet to meet, Sidhu has been declaring candidates for some of the seats. The party is also yet to develop a strategy for the elections.

SAD, which had quit the coalition with BJP over the farm laws, has tied up with the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) whose vote share has been less than two per cent even though one third of the state’s voters belong to the Dalit Samaj. However, Akalis are by far the first movers.

Party chief Sukhbir Singh Badal has been actively leading the party and besides the alliance with the BSP, has already declared candidates for the ensuing elections. It is also attempting to woo back its core constituency of rural votes by touting that it has quit the coalition and power to stand behind the farmers. The party is not facing any major hostility from farmers now and its fate would depend on how rural voters view its role in the aftermath of the farm laws which were subsequently withdrawn.

AAP, which had built up a strong cadre before the last elections, lost some ground with several leaders quitting the party and the state unit of the party remaining disoriented over the last four years. It has received a fillip after the Chandigarh Municipal Corporation elections but continues to remain under the direct charge of its central leaders. It’s biggest failing has been a lack of a credible chief ministerial face. With just over a month left for the elections, the party chief Arvind Kejriwal has decided to maintain silence over the issue although he has declared that the candidate would be a Sikh from Punjab. This effectively ruled himself out of the race as was being apprehended last time.

The new entrant to the political scenario, the Kisan Samaj Party, might turn out to be the X factor in the coming elections. About 22 of the farmers organisations have joined hands to form the party but at least 10 others have decided to stay away. On its own, the new party is unlikely to make a serious dent but it can change the calculations if it decides to tie up with one of the major parties. And if it happens with AAP, which has a strong presence in urban areas, it would be a strong alliance to be reckoned with.

Even as the model code of conduct is to come into force any day now and schedule is to be announced for elections next month, the political situation remains fluid with new alignments in the making and finalisation of party tickets setting the tone for the elections.

Will JP Nadda Come Out Of Shah’s Shadow?

The humiliating defeat suffered by the Bharatiya Janata Party in the Delhi assembly election has not proved to be an auspicious beginning for the party’s month-old president JP Nadda. Though it is true that it was Union Home Minister Amit Shah who led the party’s high-decibel campaign in Delhi, history books will record the result as BJP’s first electoral drubbing under Nadda’s stewardship.

Out of power for over two decades, the BJP was predictably desperate to take control in Delhi. But the Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party proved to be a formidable opponent and the BJP fell by the wayside once again.

Well before Nadda took over as the BJP’s 11th president, it was widely acknowledged that he will not enjoy the same powers as his predecessor Amit Shah did but, nevertheless, would be called to take responsibility for the party’s poll defeats as well as organisational matters.

Nadda began his tenure with a disadvantage as it is difficult to live up to Shah’s larger-than-life image. Amit Shah, who served as BJP president for five years has easily been the most powerful party head in recent times. Known for his supreme organisational skills, Shah is chiefly responsible for the BJP’s nation-wide expansion, having built a vast network of party workers and put in place formidable election machinery. No doubt Modi’s personality, charisma and famed oratory drew in the crowds but there is no denying that Shah contributed equally to the string of electoral victories notched by the BJP over the last five years.

ALSO READ: Shah Could Be Most Decisive HM

Given that Shah has revamped the party organisation from scratch and placed his loyalists in key positions, there are serious doubts that the affable, low-key and smiling Nadda will be allowed functional autonomy. Will he be able to take independent decisions, will he constantly be looking over his shoulder, will he be allowed to appoint his own team or will he be a lame-duck party president? These are the questions doing the rounds in the BJP as there is all-round agreement that Shah will not relinquish his grip over the party organisation. This was evident in the run-up to the Delhi assembly polls as it was Shah and not Nadda who planned and led the party’s election campaign.

In fact, it is acknowledged that Nadda was chosen to head the BJP precisely because he is willing to play the second fiddle to Shah. Party leaders maintain that the new president is unlikely to make any major changes in the near future and that he will be consulting Shah before taking key decisions. For the moment, state party chiefs appointed by Shah have been re-elected, ensuring that the outgoing party president remains omnipresent.

ALSO READ: Anti-CAA Protests Erupt In Country

Though Nadda has inherited a far stronger party organisation as compared to his earlier predecessors, the new BJP president also faces a fair share of challenges. He has taken over as party chief at a time when the BJP scraped through in the Haryana assembly polls, failed to form a government in Maharashtra and was roundly defeated in Jharkhand. The party’s relations with its allies have come under strain while the ongoing protests against the new citizenship law, the National Register of Citizens and the National Population Register have blotted the BJP’s copybook.

These developments have predictably came as a rude shock to the BJP leadership and its cadres who were convinced that the party was invincible, especially after it came to power for a second consecutive term last May with a massive mandate.

WATCH: Modi Has Woken Up A Sleeping Tiger

Nadda’s first task has been to boost the morale of party workers and make them believe that the recent assembly poll results were a flash in the pan and that the BJP’s expansion plans are on course.

After Delhi, the Bihar election poses the next big challenge this year. The party’s ally, the Janata Dal (U), has upped the ante, meant primarily to mount pressure on the BJP for a larger share of seats in this year’s assembly elections. Realising that the BJP cannot afford to alienate its allies at this juncture, Amit Shah has already declared Nitish Kumar as the coalition’s chief ministerial candidate, which effectively puts the Janata Dal (U) in the driver’s seat. This has upset the BJP’s Bihar unit which has been pressing for a senior role in the state and is even demanding that the next chief minister should be from their party.          

The BJP has to necessarily treat its allies with kid gloves as they have been complaining  about the saffron party’s “big brother” attitude and that they are being taken for granted. While Shiv Sena has already parted company with the BJP, other alliance partners like the Lok Janshakti Party and the Shiromani Akali Dal have also questioned the BJP’s style of functioning.

The crucial West Bengal assembly election next year will also be held during Nadda’s tenure. The BJP has been working methodically on the ground in this state for the past several years now and has staked its prestige on dethroning Mamata Banerjee.

ALSO READ: West Bengal Follows AAP Model

But the Trinamool Congress chief is putting up a spirited fight, sending out a clear message to the BJP that it will not be so easy to oust her. Banerjee has declared war against the Modi government on the issues pertaining to the CAA-NRC-NPR and also activated her party cadres who have spread across the state to explain the implications of the Centre’s decision to the poor and illiterate. The BJP, on the other hand, is struggling to get across its message.

As in the case of Delhi, Shah can be expected to take charge of the Bihar and West Bengal assembly polls while Nadda will, at best, be a marginal player. Again it will be left to Shah to mollify the party’s allies as it is too sensitive and important a task to be handled by Nadda.

Like all political parties led by strong leaders, a BJP defeat will be seen as Nadda’s failure while a victory will be credited to Modi and Shah.

Badals Under Cloud As Cracks Appear In Akali Dal

th Guru of the Sikhs. Human depiction of the Sikh Gurus is forbidden. Sikhs by and large, and hardliners in particular, had been having a strong dislike for the Dera chief for a variety of reasons including his ability to draw majhabi Sikhs to his fold in large numbers. Although he never asked them to give up their religion, the concept of “Guru manyo Granth”, or consider the holy text as the only guru, conflicted with the tenets of Sikhism. It was his emulation of Guru Gobind Singh that incensed Sikhs worldwide. It was considered a step too far. It led to protests and calls for him to present himself at Sri Akal Takht Sahib. As it was with the politics of Badals, they were eyeing the vote bank of Majhabi Punjabis that Gurmeet Ram Rahim could deliver. Ram Rahim sent an unsigned letter without apologising or directly asking for a pardon for his conduct. Nevertheless the Jathedars pardoned him. The Sikh maryada requires a person to present him/herself at the Akal Takht, express regret and accept a punishment, often cursory. Usually it is cleaning of utensils, or shoes or saying a few recitations from the Guru Granth Sahib. Maharajah Ranjit Singh, the only Sikh and Punjabi Maharajah of Punjab had famously accepted being whipped when he was punished at the Takht for indulging with prostitutes while being an Amritdhari Sikh. Thus the ‘politically staged’ pardon of Ram Rahim  granted to him without due process came as a rude shock to most Sikhs and led to several protests. This forced the Jathedars to subsequently withdraw the pardon but enough damage had been done. It was under these circumstances that a spate of incidents of sacrilege involving Guru Granth Sahib were reported from several parts of the state. The Justice Ranjit Singh panel’s first report had said Badal and his son Sukhbir secured Akal Takht’s pardon for Dera Sacha Sauda head Gurmeet Ram Rahim in September 2015 to facilitate release of the Dera head’s movie. Though the edict was revoked after backlash from Sikh bodies, the report said it had a “devastating effect and played the role of catalyst in sacrilege incidents”. It had also put Sukhbir, the then home minister, in the dock for “showing lack of will and seriousness” in solving sacrilege cases. Though the exact tally of the acts of sacrilege is not available, it is estimated that about a hundred such incidents were reported in late 2015 and early 2016. That there was a clear pattern in such acts of desecration was an obvious fact. Some suspects were arrested, including Dera followers, but the charges could not be proved against them. The state government appointed Zora Singh Commission to identity the culprits and conspiracy but its report was “inconclusive”. Capt Amarinder Singh government had subsequently constituted a commission under Section 11 of the Commission of Inquiry Act, 1952, to probe cases of desecration of the Guru Granth Sahib and other religious texts at Burj Jawahar Singh Wala, Bargari, Gurusar and Mallke after rejecting the findings of the Zora Singh Commission. Justice Ranjit Singh Commission, while indicting Parkash Singh Badal and the former DGP Sumedh Singh Saini, has also recommended registration of cases against police officers responsible for the firing in which two protesters were killed at Behbal Kalan. Badals have reacted by claiming that the Commission’s report was a ‘sham’ and that it was worth only the waste paper basket. However, in view of the gathering storm, they have announced a series of ‘pol-khol’ rallies in the state to ‘expose’ the government. The cracks developing in the senior leadership pose a serious threat to the Badal clan. The resentment had been brewing over several years as top posts were given only to their favourites. The abrasive and insulting behaviour by Sukhbir towards some senior party leaders had been adding to the resentment. The Akali politics is once again in turmoil. The immediate solace for the Badals is the fact that there is no clear cut alternative leadership and none was allowed to grow in the recent years. Speculations are that senior Punjabi leaders from other parties may join hands to fill the vacuum. The developments would be closely watched.]]>

BJP Needs Allies More Than Ever Before

By Sanjoy Narayan For quite a while after the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) impressively won India’s 2014 parliamentary elections in what is universally acknowledged as a wave that was powered by Mr. Narendra Modi’s aggressive campaigning, it seemed unstoppable. Mr. Modi and his electioneering vow of attaining a “Congress-mukt Bharat” where the BJP would rid the Congress of power in every state also appeared to be within grasp. On the face of it, it can still seem so. Of the 29 Indian states, his party, on its own or with the help of allies, rules in 22. The Congress, on the other hand, rules in three, and recently in Karnataka it formed the government as a junior partner of a regional party, the Janata Dal Secular (JDS). But these numbers hide a telling trend. That trend began with the state elections in Gujarat late last year. The BJP won those elections and retained power but with much less decisiveness than before: in the 182-seat Gujarat assembly, it got 16 seats less than it had in 2012, while rival Congress got 18 more than its previous tally. Since then it has suffered a series of setbacks in by-elections held in several states for parliamentary as well as assembly seats. In UP, it lost two prestigious Lok Sabha seats that were vacated by BJP chief minister Yogi Adityanath and his deputy; likewise it lost two assembly seats in Rajasthan; and in the most recent by polls held in May for four Lok Sabha and 10 assembly seats, it managed to win just two seats (one Lok Sabha and one assembly). The Modi wave, which had once seemed invincible, is losing steam. Last month, a survey by media group ABP and the Centre for the Study of Development Societies (CSDS) of 15,859 respondents showed 47% felt that the Modi government did not deserve a second inning in the 2019 parliamentary elections and only 39% felt that it did. The survey threw up other findings too: a.) Minority communities (Muslims, Sikhs and Christians) are pronounced in their opposition to the Modi government and that even the Hindu majority is split in half between support and opposition; and b.) The BJP’s popularity is down by several percentage points. Prior to the assembly elections in Gujarat most political analysts went by a conventional logic that ran as follows. To win elections, the Congress, whose footprint across Indian has drastically shrunk needs to forge, nurture and depend on alliances with other parties, notably the regional ones that hold sway in states. In Gujarat, it was able to gain seats because it allied with a combination of regional parties and activists; in Bihar when Lalu Yadav’s Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal United (JDU) were allies, it agreed to be a junior partner with the two (that is history now, though, after the JDU broke away and allied with the BJP). And the last two times that it came to power at the Centre was because at least a dozen parties came together to join its coalition, the United Progressive Alliance (UPA). Without those parties, the Congress could never have formed a government. For the BJP, thus far it has been a different story. Although its National Democratic Alliance (NDA) is a combine of 47 parties, BJP alone has 277 of the 334 seats that the NDA has of Lok Sabha’s 543 making it pretty much the all-powerful boss of the alliance, a clout that the Congress never had (on its own it had 145 seats in 2004; and 206 in 2009). Moreover, its currently configured DNA, BJP is inept in handling powerful allies. In Punjab, where it has partnered with the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), and in Maharashtra where it runs the government with the Shiv Sena, fissures and frictions between the BJP and its allies have been chronic. So conventional logic suggested that, at least in the big states, the BJP probably fares better when it goes alone or tactically allies with only minor players. Well, that logic may not hold good any longer. In the recent elections in Karnataka, the BJP on its own impressively won the largest number of seats but even that didn’t assure it power because it could forge no allies to speak of. Karnataka, along with four other southern states (Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Tamil Nadu and Kerala) will be crucial for the BJP as it goes in for the next parliamentary elections. Those five states account for 130 Lok Sabha seats (for comparison’s sake: UP accounts for 80, Maharashtra 48, Bengal 42, and Bihar 40).  Although it has “friendly” parties such as AIADMK and PMK in Tamil Nadu and YSR Congress Party in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, none of them is technically an ally in the south for the BJP. In fact, it recently lost a southern ally when Chandrababu Naidu’s Telugu Desam Party (TDP) left the NDA. If the ABP-CSDS survey is directionally accurate and the outcome of several by polls considered, the BJP will need alliances if it wants to get the winning numbers. It needs them in the south but also elsewhere. In the east it has three big allies—the JDU and the Lok Janshakti Party (LJP), led by Ram Vilas Paswan, in Bihar; and the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) in Assam. But in Bengal and Odisha where it has intention of spreading its footprint, it has no regional ally. The two powerful parties that rule there—Trinamool Congress (TMC) and the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) have an advantage in elections if the opposition vote is fragmented among many rather than consolidated towards an alliance. Even the alliances the BJP has are not without their woes. In Bihar, the BJP wrested back power riding on the shoulders of the JDU after chief minister Nitish Kumar ditched the RJD but tension and resentment simmers within the new alliance. Further, the RJD, still smarting from being ousted from the government is believed to be trying to woo away local BJP/JDU allies such as Paswan’s LJP and the Rashtriya Lok Samta Party (RLSP) led by Upendra Kushwaha. In UP where two regional parties and once bitter foes, Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party (led by Mayawati), joined together against the BJP and foiled its attempts to win several by poll seats, tallying up Lok Sabha seats will be a challenge for the BJP. Even in those state polls where there have traditionally been straight fights between the BJP and Congress, there could be new challenges. As in Madhya Pradesh where although the BJP has been in power for three terms, the Congress is forging an alliance with the BSP and, therefore, could pose a heftier challenge. Madhya Pradesh goes to the polls later this year, as does Rajasthan. In both the incumbent BJP governments could face a siege. But more importantly, with less than a year left of his term, Mr. Modi and his party’s president and chief election strategist, Mr. Amit Shah, are eyeing the next parliamentary elections. The string of outcomes in some state elections and many by-elections haven’t been as desired. No surprises then that Mr. Shah has been meeting leaders of his party’s allies across India, particularly the more difficult ones such as the Shiv Sena and the Shiromani Akali Dal. Next on the cards could be peace offerings that could come in the shape of more cabinet posts for representatives of non-BJP NDA constituents. All eyes are on Delhi. Sanjoy Narayan tweets @sanjoynarayan]]>