2014 General elections were a watershed event because the BJP managed to get a simple majority. It rendered coalition polity as obsolete and a thing of the past. However, the hobnobbing of opposition parties scripting defeat of the BJP in Bihar was a comeback of sorts. The mainstream media hailed it as the beginning of the end of the Modi Shah domination and all this happened at the backdrop of liberal propaganda with the drama of returning awards and so on.
It symbolically signified that even if a Congress free country is in the offing, regional satraps can still provide together a formidable challenge of sorts. The model of grand coalition in Bihar was touted as a counter to the Gujarat model of governance which had capitulated Modi to the premier executive position. Around the same time, Kejirwal had scripted an amazing Delhi assembly win with two thirds of majority. Undoubtedly, both the states demonstrated that BJP could be vulnerable and a coalition of all the opposition parties can displace the said invincible BJP.
However, much time has flown over these losses as BJP has managed to spring back. In subsequently held assembly elections in many states, it romped home with a big state like UP in their kitty along with winning in states where it had low presence such as Assam.
There are three reasons as to why the BJP is supposedly the only pole now in Indian politics. Firstly, Kejriwal after Delhi win has proved to be just a flash in the pan. He not only lost the subsequent MCD polls (along with Goa and Punjab) but also was mired into defamation case and a string of credibility breaking graft charges. So, his aim of making AAP a national pole died its natural death. Secondly, the Congress party has still not revived but on the contrary, is shrinking into its oblivion. Congress party nowhere is a national party now and is confined itself into a handful of states. But it’s the third reason which has cemented BJP as the only serious pole in political circles. The recent resignation of Nitish Kumar and his coming back to the NDA principally has made a possible strong anti BJP front (coming together of all opposition) as a mere fantasy.
As on July 26, Nitish Kumar resigned citing corruption tainted Tejaswi Yadav was not putting his papers. On morality grounds, he broke his alliance with the RJD. It took just a couple of hours before political crisis in Bihar resulted into erstwhile partners coming back together again. NDA govt came back to power in Patna and this victory can be compared with the scale of an emphatic BJP win in UP.
So how does Nitish coming back to the NDA fold influence 2019 and national politics in general? There will be gigantic manifestation of this development in many ways in near future to come. Here are the six ways in which Nitish Kumar has spoilt the opposition’s chances in 2019.
1. Securing numbers for Lok Sabha:
Firstly, BJP has safe guarded a lot of Lok Sabha seats in Bihar for 2019. BJP- JD (U) combine will sweep the state in 2019 and even the next assembly polls. This consolidation will be at the expense of the RJD who under the backdrop of corruption charges would sink considerably. RJD could finish as the largest party in the last assembly elections owing to the mathematical calculations of caste and minorities. It also had projected a clean imaged Nitish as the CM face of the grand coalition. Both these reasons will evaporate under the heat of this new realignment.
2. Failure of the grand coalition experiment:
Secondly, this is a big blow to grand coalition touted as Mahaghatbandhan. After victory of the experiment in Bihar during 2015 elections for the assembly, the liberal media and political pundits had hoped this model will be replicated in other states. As BJP and Nitish join hands again, this proposed model to fight BJP has been ruined. The question of replicating this model will now never arise as its maiden experiment in Bihar has failed miserably.
3. Loss of credible PM face:
Thirdly, Nitish Kumar was the only credible face who could mount a feeble challenge against PM Modi in 2019 as opposition candidate. Even Ram Chandra Guha had made a remark about Nitish been the Congress head to revive the party. With him in the NDA now, the proposed hypothetical front against BJP is faceless. And leaders like Mamata and Mayawati may squabble to be nominated for the PMs post. There is no leader now in the opposition who has that aura to be the face and form a cohesive opposition against BJP.
4. Rajya Sabha numbers:
Fourthly, it’s not just Lok Sabha but power in Bihar will also help BJP bolster its Rajya Sabha numbers which in turn will give it long term benefits. This will remove all the sticky points it faced during passage of bills like GST and will steer clear obstructive functioning of the parliament.
5. Further weakening of Congress:
The fifth aspect is breaking down of symbiosis between regional parties and the Congress. A weak Congress was piggybacking on the back of parties like JD (U) with the help of coalitions to salvage their face and help them grow. Nitish doing a U turn has delivered a blow to the Congress as its tendency to be a parasite on regional parties will suffer. Poor management skills of the Congress in failing to resolve the dispute between Nitish and Lalu is clearly highlighted from this fallout.
6. Taming the Sena:
Lastly, a come back by Nitish will send a strong message and signal to dubious NDA allies like the Sena who has used public platform to get back at the BJP. This will provide BJP that necessary leverage in the NDA as it has brought back one of its oldest ally who unlike Sena will support the Modi govt on policies and governance. Perhaps there would be less dependency on allies like Sena where coming together seems nothing but a matter of convenience rather than ideological unison.
With the advent of such a scenario, the BJP has no real political threat in 2019. The only grand coalition perhaps they may be facing is the Lutyens and the mainstream media. As Omar Abdullah had rightly said after UP elections that the opposition seems to have already lost the plot for 2019 and they should focus in taking on PM Modi for 2024. That point of time Nitish Kumar was still in the opposition when Omar had made this observation. After ghar wapasi of Kumar, 2019 seems to be not about PM Modi coming back to power. It would certainly be more about in what numbers and magnanimity Modi govt will get back in 2019.