Editorial with Sujit Nair: Is BJP seen as an unfriendly partner?

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In this editorial discussion, Mr. Sujit Nair delves into the growing discomfort of regional parties with the NDA (National Democratic Alliance) and their tendency to distance themselves from the BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party). The exodus of allies from the NDA began as early as 2014 when, shortly after the Lok Sabha elections, the Haryana Janhit Congress withdrew its support before the state assembly elections. Party leader Kuldeep Bishnoi accused the BJP of being deceitful and aiming to marginalize regional parties. Another ally, the Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (MDMK) from Tamil Nadu, also severed ties with the NDA in December of that year. Its leader, Vaiko, alleged that the BJP was working against the interests of the Tamil people. Vijayakanth’s Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam (DMDK) and S. Ramadoss’s Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK) also left the NDA before the 2016 Tamil Nadu assembly polls, following their poor performance in the Lok Sabha elections. Telugu superstar Pawan Kalyan had campaigned extensively for the NDA during the general elections but quickly became disillusioned, leading to the departure of his Jana Sena Party. In 2016, the Revolutionary Socialist Party (Bolshevik) in Kerala distanced itself from the NDA. More recently, tribal leader C.K. Janu’s Janadhipathya Rashtriya Sabha split from the NDA, accusing it of not fulfilling promises to the tribal population in Kerala. In the following year, the Swabhimani Paksha, an ally from Maharashtra, left the NDA. Party leader Raju Shetti accused the BJP-led central and state governments of being anti-farmer. The trend of allies leaving the NDA continued in 2018, starting with the exit of Bihar’s Hindustan Awam Morcha, led by former CM Jitan Ram Manjhi, who left after his demand for a Rajya Sabha seat was not met. In Nagaland, the Naga People’s Front ended its 15-year alliance with the NDA due to its tie-up with the Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP) during the state’s assembly elections. In March, the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) left the NDA when Andhra Pradesh CM Chandrababu Naidu’s demand for special status for his state was unmet. By the end of the year, the TDP was aligning itself with the Congress, which it was originally formed to oppose. In West Bengal, the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha withdrew its support from the NDA, claiming that the BJP had betrayed the Gorkha people. After the Karnataka assembly elections, the Karnataka Pragnyavantha Janatha Party broke its alliance with the BJP to join the post-poll JD(S)-Congress coalition. In December, the Rashtriya Lok Samata Party (RLSP) left the NDA and joined the UPA, with RLSP leader Upendra Kushwaha expressing disappointment with the alliance. Another party from Bihar, Mukesh Sahni’s Vikassheel Insaan Party, also switched to the opposition camp. Amid these departures, there was one significant exit initiated by the BJP itself. In June 2018, the BJP terminated its alliance with the Jammu & Kashmir Peoples Democratic Party, leading to the collapse of Mehbooba Mufti’s government. Later that year, the PDP attempted to form a government again with the support of its arch-rival National Conference and the Congress, but the Governor dissolved the assembly instead.

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