Finally what was only a matter of timing has become a reality. The Telugu Desam party has pulled out of the NDA and joined ranks with the opposition, going to the extent of bringing in a no-confidence motion against the government that it was a part of till recently. While announcing the decision, the party labelled serious charges against the BJP and did not bother to sweet coat the divorce. The BJP too, through its spokespersons, has given it back to Chandrababu Naidu, calling him inefficient and incompetent.
Now, is this an irreparable loss for the BJP? Has it become more vulnerable vis-à-vis its other allies? Or is this good riddance?
Before answering that question, let us see what the BJP could have done to mollify its ally of four years. It is clear that short of the “special state” status, the BJP was ready to do everything possible for the state. It is also clear that the TDP would not have settled for anything short of that status. So the divorce became inevitable and was forced on the BJP when YSRCP’s Jagan was seen to be winning the battle of perception. Thus Chandrababu Naidu’s hand was forced by events connected to 2019 state assembly elections. That is understandable, entirely.
But this is nothing new to the BJP. Actually, history is only repeating itself, which it has done many times over already. The DMK, which was a part of the NDA during Vajpayee’s time walked out on it a little before the general elections and without batting an eyelid, went straight to the opposite camp and continued to enjoy power at the centre for another decade. One thing that is obvious is the patent opportunism of the regional parties that ally with the BJP, which become squeaky secular the moment they ditch the BJP and are embraced with open arms by those that are “permanently secular”, which include the likes of INC, SP, the Left and the RJD. All the rest have found it expedient to do business with the BJP whenever it suits them and ditches it when it does not. It is only the BJP that is “permanently communal”.
Today everyone talks about how the BJP is arrogant and does not carry along its allies. It is probably true. But it is also true that none of these so-called allies has stood with the BJP in its times of crises. Under the circumstances, it is only natural for the BJP to feel wary of them. The Shiv Sena is an everyday headache, sulking because it has become a junior partner in Maharashtra. The JDU unceremoniously sacked the BJP ministers in Bihar without offering even the minimum courtesy of allowing them to resign. The BJD, the NC, the DMK and Paswan in an earlier avatar were no better. So why would the BJP repose trust in them? It is only political calculations that bring these parties to the BJP and vice versa. And it is again political calculations, now changed, that make them go their own separate ways. So why crib that BJP does not follow alliance dharma?
When the alliance partners are nothing but partners in power only, the BJP has every right to try and expand its voter base and grow in these states. In some of them, it has actually succeeded. The allies have always come to the BJP only when it was in a position of strength and therefore it should continue its attempts to expand in states where it is not a force to reckon with now.
Today it is the TDP, tomorrow, as the general elections draw nearer, it could be anybody else. Let it take in its stride this kind of behaviour by allies and redouble its efforts to retain its existing base and expand where it is not strong.