On Saturday, the SAD turned the third main NDA member to stop the BJP

Vibha Sharma

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 27

On Saturday, the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) became the third major NDA member to quit the Bharatiya Janata Party-led grouping after the Shiv Sena in 2019 and the N Chandrababu Naidu-led Telugu Desam Party (TDP) in 2018 a few months before the Lok Sabha’ elections.

Voicing anger over the three farm Bills cleared the Parliament, Harsimrat Kaur Badal, former union minister in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Cabinet, also, in a way, attacked the Prime Minister claiming that the NDA was no longer the alliance “envisioned” by former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

Hasrimrat Badal tweeted: “If pain & protests of 3 cr punjabis fail to melt the rigid stance of GoI (Government of India), it’s no longer the NDA envisioned by Vajpayee ji & Badal sahab. An alliance that turns a deaf ear to its oldest ally & a blind eye to pleas of those who feed the nation is no longer in the interest of Pb (sic).”

While the separation may have made no difference to either the health or the safety of the BJP-led NDA enjoying a brute majority in the Lok Sabha, the fact is the saffron party’s relationship with two of its oldest supporters — the Shiv Sena and the SAD — has ended.

The two allies have decided to chart a separate course to save their individual political identity and core voters. Basically, the NDA is down to JD-U, LJP, HAM (S) in Bihar (there are murmurs of RLSP doing a ‘ghar wapsi’), JJP in Haryana, AIADMK in Tamil Nadu, Apna Dal in UP and some other minor parties like Ram Das Athawale-led RPI in Maharashtra and those in the Northeast etc.

However, as leaders point that the BJP is never the one to end any relationship, they also claim that TDP leader N Chandrababu Naidu, after faring poorly in Lok Sabha and Assembly elections, “openly admitted regret over his decision”.

“(Bihar CM) Nitish Kumar (of the JD-U) has returned is currently running the Bihar government with us. The AIADMK joined the NDA in 2019 and while the Shiv Sena may have parted ways in Maharashtra it stands with NDA in the Lok Sabha. The HAM(S) is back and RLSP is also on the way (in Bihar). The JJP is with NDA in Haryana. In all NDA is an alliance of around 25 parties,” they say.

As far as the PDP is concerned, they add that it was the BJP which pulled out because of “genuine concerns” in erstwhile state Jammu and Kashmir.

Meanwhile, speculations are rife following a meeting between former Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis (BJP) and Sanjay Raut (SS), though Raut insists “there can be ideological differences but we are not enemies” and Fadnavis claims the meeting was regarding an interview for Shiv Sena mouthpiece Saamana and nothing more. Too early in the day, but some political observers believe it will not be surprising if the Akalis also touch base with the NDA “before or after Assembly polls in 2022 to strengthen national forces”.

“The fact is the BJP is the main pillar of the NDA and any party joining, or leaving it, is well aware of that. They join the NDA when they want to draw from the pan-India appeal of Prime Minister Narendra Modi with support base in every state, they leave when they find their individual strength weakening. There is no state, including Punjab where the BJP’s organisational strength is not as strong, that does not have a Modi support-base,” say BJP leaders.

Regarding perceptions, this is what Rajya Sabha MP Shwait Malik has to say: “They (Akali Dal) left us, we did not leave them. Why did they not leave earlier? Why were they giving favourable statements on the Ordinances? The BJP has always taken them along on issues concerning Punjab.”

Timeline of parties breaking, forming alliance with the NDA

  • The JD-U walks out in 2013, returns in 2017
  • TDP pulls out in 2018 over the issue of special category for Andhra Pradesh 
  • In 2018, BJP abandons PDP over concerns on “increase in violence and terrorism and radicalization” in erstwhile state JK
  • In 2018, RLSP president Upendra Kushwaha resigns from the Cabinet, walks out saying he feels “insulted” in the coalition
  • Tamil Nadu party AIADMK joins NDA in 2019
  • In 2019, after contesting Assembly elections with BJP, Shiv Sena parts way over the CM post and better deal in power-sharing
  • The JJP joins BJP in Haryana in 2019 to help it form the government
  • In 2020, Akali Dal leaves, crying foul over three farm legislations

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