While there are some parties, which have declared to be non-Congress, non-BJP, that could extend support in a post-poll scenario, there are others who would find it difficult to do so
Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is aiming to retain power in the ongoing Lok Sabha election. Opinion surveys conducted prior to the first phase of polling suggest that the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) is ahead. But, some surveys predict the possibility of a hung Parliament.
In an event of a hung Lower House, with the NDA being the single-largest pre-poll alliance, or the one closest to the magic number of 272 seats, the Modi-led coalition would require support of other parties.
While there are some parties, which have declared to be non-Congress, non-BJP, that could extend support in a post-poll scenario, there are others who would find it difficult to do so.
Many political parties, once a part of the Atal Bihari Vajpayee-led NDA government at the turn of the millennium, are now fighting against Modi. Here are a few:
Jammu and Kashmir National Conference
The Farooq Abdullah-led party joined Vajpayee’s NDA in 1999. Consequently, Omar Abdullah was inducted into the Union Cabinet. However, the party quit the alliance in 2002 citing poor performance in state polls. The party had won four seats in 1999.
The Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) forged an alliance with the BJP between 1999 and 2004. Members of the DMK were Cabinet ministers in the Vajpayee government. At the end of the term, the DMK decided to partner the Congress. DMK patriarch M Karunanidhi was criticised and called an “opportunist” by his rivals.
The party had won 12 out of the state’s 39 seats in 1999.
Mamata Banerjee-led All India Trinamool Congress (TMC) was part of Vajpayee’s coalition at the Centre. The party had won eight out of West Bengal’s 42 seats in 1999. Banerjee herself served as Railway Minister between 1999 and 2001 and continued to be a minister without portfolio till 2004. The two parties also fought the 2004 Lok Sabha polls together.
However, TMC quit the NDA in 2007 and fought the 2009 Lok Sabha elections with the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA).
Now, Banerjee is a key rival to Modi. Many believe that the major battle in West Bengal this time is between the TMC and the BJP.
Biju Janata Dal
The Naveen Patnaik-led Biju Janata Dal (BJD) had been in an alliance with the saffron party since 1998. In the 1999 Lok Sabha polls, BJD won 10 out of the 21 seats in Odisha. Patnaik served as the Mining Minister between 1999 and 2000 in the Vajpayee government.
In 2000, the BJD-BJP alliance secured a majority in the Odisha state election. Following this, Patnaik moved to Odisha to become the chief minister. In 2004, BJD won 11 Lok Sabha seats in the state even as the alliance failed to retain power at the Centre. The BJD quit the NDA in 2009 and has since fought all elections alone.
Patnaik has repeatedly said the party wants to maintain equal distance from the BJP and the Congress. However, observers suggest that BJD’s main challenge is now coming from the BJP, not its traditional rival Congress.
Telugu Desam Party
The N Chandrababu Naidu-led party had provided Vajpayee’s government external support between 1999 and 2004.
The two parties came together in the run-up to the 2014 Lok Sabha polls. TDP had two of its Members of Parliament (MP) in the Union Cabinet. However, TDP stormed out of the alliance in early 2018, claiming that the Centre was not willing to grant special category status to Andhra Pradesh. Special status was a long-standing demand stemming from the state’s bifurcation in 2014.Since then, Naidu has played an active role in trying to unify the Opposition against the Modi-led BJP.