BJP: Playing Haughty Big Brother Does Not PayFinally, the BJP has discarded its haughty attitude and acknowledged that the allies are miffed with it. Amit Shah is going to meet Uddhav Thackeray of the Shiv Sena and Akali Dal leaders to try and bring them around. This was long overdue. The BJP has to realize that being a big pan-India party does not give it a license to ignore the valid demands of allies who have a powerful presence in their home states. Perhaps this realization has dawned after the opposition has managed to unite and defeat the BJP in recent elections. But the allies will also have to keep in mind that the BJP is not going to totally capitulate in the way Congress did in Karnataka. Shah will have to bring them to a middle ground.
By Sunil Garodia
The case of Shiv Sena is tricky. Thackeray knows that having the same Hindutva ideology as the base, any quarter given to the BJP in Maharashtra results in the bigger party poaching on its support base. It knows that with time, the BJP is going to reduce it to just some pocket boroughs. For the Sena, opposing the BJP is a fight for its existence. But the Sena also knows that no other big party will forge an alliance with it in Maharashtra. In the absence of an alliance, the Sena will be wiped out in multi-cornered contests. Hence, it has adopted a sulky and defiant attitude. But will this help it? Amit Shah will have to negotiate a deal which keeps the Sena in good humour but does not harm the BJP.
As for the Akalis, they have been discredited for the time being because of the charges of corruption and nepotism during their rule. But public memory is short and the Akalis have displayed time and again that they can bounce back strongly. With AAPs exuberance in Punjab fizzling out and its vote share reduced to close to NOTA, Punjab will again be a two horse fight. Shah needs to tell the Akalis to undertake a mass contact programme to repair the damage done to their credibility. It is in BJPs interest to make Akali Dal stronger. Some leeway should be given to the ally to take on Amarinder Singh.
The other allies, like Nitish Kumar and Ram Vilas Paswan also need to be assuaged. Nitish in particular is a valuable ally and with RJD making a comeback in the bypolls, any whiff of disharmony in the alliance is not going to go down well with the electorate. Further, the BJP should also try and win back Chandrababu Naidu and if that is not possible, it should look into the possibility of tying up with YSR Congress of Jagan Reddy. With Karnataka gone, Andhra Pradesh should now form the basis of its southern strategy. Since the Congress has already decided that it is going to fight the YSR Congress and leave Naidu alone, the BJP should work on Jagan Reddy and bring him on board.
Having realized that it does not always pay to play a haughty big brother, the BJP should go all out to win back the trust of the allies to present a united face before the electorate. With important elections coming up in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, the party cannot let things to drift. It will be a test of strategy for Amit Shah who is often referred to as the master strategist. If he fails to pacify the allies, he will lose the right to be called that.