16 May, 2021

The Friend Zone Blahs: With Ally Troubles, BJP Needs Some Soul-Searching

Is the saffron party neglecting the smaller parties? Analysts say allies are alienated by the way the BJP functions.

The League
Amit Shah walks ahead of the two Paswans and Nitish
Photograph by Getty Images
The Friend Zone Blahs: With Ally Troubles, BJP Needs Some Soul-Searching

Still smarting from the drubbing in three heartland states and facing the greatest challenge from within, the beginning of the election year spells little cheer for the ruling BJP-led NDA. Sixteen of its constituents, both big and small, have quit since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took over in 2014. The latest instance came exactly a week into 2019, when the BJP’s ally in Assam, the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) led by Prafulla Kumar Mahanta, pulled the plug on the NDA over the passage of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016, which seeks to grant Indian citizenship to non-Muslims from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Though the AGP’s exit wouldn’t hurt the Sarbananda Sonowal-led BJP ­government in Assam, it will definitely alter the arithmetic in the Lok Sabha polls later this year. It could well be the beginning of the troubles for the BJP in the Northeast as most parties in the region, including its allies such as the National People’s Party (NPP) in Megh­alaya and the Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura (IPFT), oppose the bill...

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