Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaks in the Rajya Sabha during the Budget Session of Parliament on February 7, 2024. (PTI)
The BJP is not shying away from bringing back the likes of Nitish Kumar with an eye on finishing off Congress’ prospects in 2024. Its alliance talks with TDP in Andhra Pradesh and Akali Dal in Punjab follow the same mantra – that these are erstwhile allies who could improve BJP’s chances in both states if there is a tie-up
The BJP over 370 seats, Congress at less than 40 — Prime Minister Narendra Modi, while speaking in Parliament, has set out the agenda for his party for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. The BJP is also wooing erstwhile allies like TDP, Akali Dal and RLD to “return home” after successfully bringing back Nitish Kumar’s JD-U in the NDA.
The target is simple – finish off Congress’ relevance in the Indian polity in the upcoming elections. The mood in the opposition camp is lacklustre and many seem resigned to their fate. While senior Congress leader KC Venugopal told News18 on Wednesday that Modi was “over-confident and will suffer the repeat of what Atal Bihari Vajpayee suffered in 2004 after the ‘Shining India’ campaign”, many Congress leaders privately say the writing is on the wall.
“Congress may get about 60 seats and BJP may end at around 320 seats,” two senior Congress leaders told News18 earlier this week.
The BJP is not shying away from bringing back the likes of Nitish Kumar with an eye on finishing off Congress’ prospects in 2024. Sources say it was Home Minister Amit Shah who was in favour of Nitish Kumar rejoining the NDA, given how the Bihar CM has a large base of support among Dalits and Mahadalits and political relevance for at least 3-4 more years, which could help the BJP in Bihar.
Shah is said to have cited a parallel of how Bhim Rao Ambedkar had embraced Buddhism towards the end of his life. BJP, along with JDU and LJP, won 39 out of 40 Bihar seats in 2019.
BJP’s alliance talks with TDP in Andhra Pradesh and Akali Dal in Punjab follow the same mantra – that these are erstwhile allies who could improve BJP’s chances in both states if there is a tie-up. The BJP is looking to contest at least six seats in Andhra Pradesh in a tie-up with the TDP as it feels the vote this time in the state will be against CM Jagan Mohan Reddy due to building anti-incumbency.
In Punjab, the BJP has little chance of winning any of the 13 seats unless it ties up with Akali Dal, given Congress and AAP have a stronghold over the state right now. The BJP won two seats here in 2019.
A senior BJP minister said the moves are also a psychological blow to the INDIA camp as the impression going out to the voters is that while the NDA family is growing by the day, the INDIA bloc is disintegrating.
Congress leader Rajeev Shukla told News18 that Modi was “afraid” of the grand old party as his Parliament speeches were focused just on the Congress and nothing else. “The fear is real in the PM’s mind – of losing to us,” Shukla said.
But the BJP minister quoted above said PM Modi has made Congress as the chief target in its speeches as the party’s aim was clear – to finish the Congress.
“What Modi has said (about 370 seats for BJP) is also what the people of the country are saying. Congress party will go further down because their prince (Rahul Gandhi) is a disaster not just for his party but for the nation. He is one engine which is never on. People have rejected him and don’t take him seriously… he is out doing drama when Parliament session is on,” Union Minister Kiren Rijiju told News18.
Senior BJP leader Prakash Javadekar told News18 that “Modi 3.0 government was a certainty and it is not just me but everyone in the country is saying so, ask anyone.”