INDIA bloc, NDA less cohesive in second phase of Lok Sabha elections (2024)

How cohesive are the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led NDA and and the Congress-led INDIA in the second phase of national elections that will be held on Friday? An analysis of first-phase candidates published in these pages on April 19 showed that while the NDA alliance was perfectly seamless in the 102 PCs voting that day, INDIA allies were pitted against each other in 12 PCs. A similar analysis for the 88 PCs voting today shows that while cohesion in the NDA is not 100% in these PCs, for INDIA it is far worse than in the first phase. Follow full coverage of the Lok Sabha elections here.

INDIA bloc, NDA less cohesive in second phase of Lok Sabha elections (1)

To be sure, the cohesion in the NDA in today’s PCs is not perfect because of two out of 88 PCs -- Kishanganj in Bihar and Tikamgarh in Madhya Pradesh – according to candidate affidavits uploaded by the Election Commission of India (ECI) on its website. In both PCs, the Rashtriya Samaj Paksha (RSPS), primarily a Maharashtra-based party, and officially part of the NDA still, has fielded candidates against the main NDA contestant in the seat: the Janata Dal (United) or JD(U) in Kishanganj and the BJP in Tikamgarh. The Congress won the Kishanganj PC in 2019 (the only one it did in Bihar) and the BJP won the Tikamgarh PC. The RSPS may not pose a big threat , as it has never won a PC in the four Lok Sabha elections it has contested from 2004 onwards. Its best performance was in 2014 when it finished second in one of the five PCs it contested.

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INDIA bloc, NDA less cohesive in second phase of Lok Sabha elections (2)

Overall, the BJP is the biggest contestant in the NDA in the 88 PCs voting on Friday. It is contesting 70 of these PCs. The second and third biggest contestants in the NDA are the JD(U) and the Bharath Dharma Jana Sena (BDJS). They are contesting five and four PCs respectively. The JD(U) is contesting all the five PCs in Bihar voting on Friday, and the BDJS is contesting in Kerala.

The poor cohesion in the INDIA bloc in the PCs voting on Friday is partly because of Kerala and West Bengal, where the Congress was unable to strike a seat-sharing deal with the Left parties and the All India Trinamool Congress (TMC) respectively. All 20 PCs of Kerala are voting today, where the Congress and its local allies that are part of the United Democratic Front, are not sharing any seat with the Left Democratic Front parties. Similarly, INDIA members will be fighting each other in all three West Bengal PCs voting today. It can be argued that the INDIA bloc was never going to be able to field common candidates in Kerala given the political history of the state. And that, it was clear very early on that the alliance would not work in West Bengal too.

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However, apart from the 23 PCs in these two states, there are 17 other PCs where INDIA bloc members are pitted against each other on Friday. This means that overall 40 of the 88 PCs (45%) will see INDIA members contesting each other. In all, there are 129 INDIA candidates for the 88 PCs.

To be sure, the lack of cohesiveness in the INDIA alliance may not hurt it in all 40 PCs where multiple members of the alliance are contesting. For example, all PCs of Kerala were won by parties that are now INDIA members in 2019. However, outside Kerala, the lack of cohesiveness might hurt the alliance. In 2019, the NDA won 16 of the 20 PCs outside Kerala where multiple INDIA members are contesting, including the three in West Bengal where the Congress is in conflict with the TMC.

Of the 17 PCs outside Kerala and West Bengal where more than one INDIA member is contesting, six are in Rajasthan, four in Maharashtra, three in Karnataka, and one each in Assam, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, and Jammu and Kashmir. In Rajasthan, such intra-alliance contests are between the Bharat Adivasi Party (BAP) and the Congress. In Maharashtra, the All India Forward Bloc (AIFB) is up against the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party-Sharadchandra Pawar (NCP-SP) in two seats; and the Communist Party of India (CPI) and the Communist Party of India (Marxist) against the Shiv Sena (Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray) in two seats. In Karnataka, the Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK), primarily a Tamil Nadu party, is in contest with the Congress in two PCs; and the CPI(M) and Congress in one PC in Kerala. In Assam, Madhya Pradesh and Jammu & Kashmir, the TMC, the BAP, and the AIFB are in contest with the Congress. In Bihar, the AIFB is up against the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD).

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INDIA bloc, NDA less cohesive in second phase of Lok Sabha elections (2024)
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