Within hours of Congress President Sonia Gandhi returning home to India after her medical check-up in the United States, the Akali Dal formalised its breakup with the BJP.
The Modi Establishment now looks shaky and vulnerable. Especially after six years of appearing unassailable. Though now, it is feeling the political heat being turned on it by Congress.
Sonia Gandhi sowed the seeds for it, before leaving for the US, it by preparing the ground for vehement opposition to the three Agriculture Bills of the Modi Government. Now her efforts have borne fruit, with Akali Dal walking out on Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The Shiromani Akali Dal Core Committee has decided unanimously to pull out of the ruling BJP-led NDA, because of the Modi Government’s stubbornness on Agriculture Bills. The Akali Dal is also unhappy that the ruling dispensation excluded the Punjabi language as an official language in the Jammu and Kashmir Union Territory.
The formal announcement to pullout from the NDA came from Akali Dal President Sardar Sukhbir Singh Badal, days after he removed the sole Akali Dal Minister, Harsimrat Kaur Badal, from the Modi Government.
The snapping of ties between the Akali Dal and the BJP is complete.
Ever since the BJP’s early Jan Sangh days, the Akali Dal is the oldest ally of BJP.
Another ally to pullout its Union Minister from the Modi government and finally quit the ruling BJP-led NDA is the Shiv Sena. The regional stalwart has since joined hands with the Congress and the NCP to form the Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi Government.
Other disgruntled allies of the BJP include Bihar’s Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) and Tamil Nadu’s AIADMK. For now, they are lying low because of the impending State Assembly elections in Bihar and Tamil Nadu.
They may make their stand clear after the polls.
In the first term of the Modi Government, nothing seemed to thwart the Prime Minister — be it the Rafale Jets deal or the charges of “Chowkidaar Chor Hai.”
It was almost as if he had a Teflon Image.
Now the signs indicate that all is not well in the Modi Government. Prime Minister Modi has been unable to complete his Cabinet formation in his second term in office from 2019, with several Union Ministers holding additional charges of portfolios. The revamp in the BJP organisation, with old RSS hands like Ram Madhav and P Murlidhar Rao being sacked from party posts could shake up the party cadres.
The great economic slowdown prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, the glaring inability to tackle the pandemic, the unplanned lockdown that only made things worse, migrant workers walking hundreds of kilometers to reach their homes in their far off native States, 12 crore job losses and unemployment rate at a 4545-year high, and youth losing hope for the future — all have dealt huge blow to Modi’s image.
Barring the Bihar Assembly elections in October-November, 2020, where the BJP is banking on Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s persona, there is no such hope in the next round of upcoming Assembly polls in Assam, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Puducherry and Kerala during early 2021.
While the Congress senses a chance in Assam, Puducherry and Kerala, the Trinamool Congress and DMK are poised for a win in Bengal and Tamil Nadu respectively.
Hence, the political scene for the BJP in the next appears bleak.
Venkat Parsa is a senior journalist and writer based in New Delhi