Political realignments will happen, but after polls: Experts

New Delhi, Aug 18 (IANS) Even though the battle lines are getting hardened as the general election draws near, with the BJP's presumptive prime ministerial aspirant Narendra Modi virtually taking on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and challenging him to a public debate on policies and programmes, it is increasingly becoming clear that a major realignment of political forces is in the offing.

But this is more likely after, rather than before, the general elections that have to be held by April-May, political observers say.

The way Gujarat Chief Minister Modi presented himself to the nation as a "shadow PM" - despite the fact that his party is yet to nominate him as the NDA's candidate - the subsequent public spats between the BJP and the Congress over his attacks on Manmohan Singh and the quiet distancing from his positions by people like L.K Advani and even the Shiv Sena point to interesting times ahead as parties, factions and PM wannabes make their calculations for the upcoming electoral battle.

Talks of realignments were also triggered by the way both the Samajwadi Party (SP) and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) - sworn political enemies in Uttar Pradesh - supported the Congress when the BJP was attacking it in parliament on the alleged illegal land deals of Robert Vadra, son-in-law of Congress chief Sonia Gandhi.

Both the regional rivals are indicating that they may continue to support the Congress after the 2014 polls - if they get their pound of flesh.

With the two big national parties - the Congress and the BJP - not sure of getting a majority of their own in the next Lok Sabha, the new ruling coalition at the centre would be shaped by the realignment of political forces after the polls. Till then, the political situation is likely to remain fluid.

"The picture would be clearer by February 2014," said a political observer, who did not wish to be named.

The reason: Alliances in five big states - Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra - which together send over 200 MPs to the 543-member Lok Sabha, are still not decided.

There is little chance of pre-poll alliances in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.

"The Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party in Uttar Pradesh and the Rashtriya Janata Dal and Janata Dal-United in Bihar may choose to go it alone in the polls and opt for an alliance afterwards," Nisar ul Haq, who teaches political science at Jamia Millia Islamia University, told IANS.

The JD-U recently parting ways with the BJP citing the ascent of Modi as in-charge of the 2014 campaign may be seen in this light, he added.

Though both the UPA and the NDA are likely to keep their present allies, the challenge would be to rope in new ones.

According to Pradip Dutta, who teaches political science at Delhi University, "It is difficult to say whether the Congress-led UPA or the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance has an edge at this point."

"Though a coherence is needed before the 2014 polls, post-poll changes are more possible," Dutta told IANS.

He, however, said that the emergence of Modi would make it difficult for the BJP to attract new allies in states with a sizable Muslim population.

"Modi at the helm will weaken the BJP's bargaining position until the party gets over 200 seats in the next Lok Sabha. Parties will find it hard to forget the 2002 communal riots in Gujarat when he was chief minister," said Dutta.

"There is some alignment already. How it will evolve in the states remains to be seen," political analyst N. Bhaskara Rao told IANS.

At present, the Congress has the Nationalist Congress Party, the National Conference and the Rashtriya Lok Dal as significant allies, having lost the Trinamool Congress and the DMK last year. It recently forged an alliance with the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha with an eye to get more seats in Jharkhand.

The BJP is left with only the Akali Dal and the Shiv Sena after the JD-U parted ways in June.

Having supported DMK leader Karunanidhi's daughter Kanimozhi in the Rajya Sabha poll, Congress managers are hopeful of an alliance either pre- or post-poll.

In West Bengal, Congress managers hope the Left parties may support it from outside again, as they did in 2004, while not ruling out the re-enrty of Trinamool supremo and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, given the around 30 percent Muslim population which may deter her from siding with Modi.

In Maharashtra, the Congress may choose to continue the alliance with the NCP while it remains to be seen whether Raj Thackeray's MNS joins hands with the Sena led by Uddhav Thackeray following the death of Balasaheb Thackeray last November.

Matches

MORE TOP STORIES TODAY

Royal test for Kings

Royal test for Kings

Preview — Clash of philosophies between Australia-centric teams More »

Duminy steals first win for Delhi

Duminy steals first win for Delhi

Furious fifties by Duminy and Dinesh Karthik end a long losing streak for the Daredevils. More »

AB, Parthiv seal Bangalore's second win

AB, Parthiv seal Bangalore's second win

Royal Challengers overcame a stutter to cruise to the small target they were set by Mumbai Indians. More »

‘Felt like helpless minority’

‘Felt like helpless minority’

Former BCCI treasurer Ajay Shirke says emotions got the better of the Srinivasan and he tried to oversimplify things by calling Meiyappan an “enthusia… More »

Glenn Maxwell carves his parallel universe

Glenn Maxwell carves his parallel universe

Glenn Maxwell seems to project an icy disdain when at the crease. Match situations rarely faze him and the bubble in which he plays excludes everyone … More »

No way back for Pietersen: ECB

No way back for Pietersen: ECB

Kevin Pietersen's hopes of reviving his international career appeared to end Saturday when ECB managing director Paul Downton said there was 'no way back'… More »

Srinivasan can attend BCCI meeting

Srinivasan can attend BCCI meeting

His status as president of TNCA makes him eligible to attend the Working Committee meeting on Sunday. More »

The world record that nearly wasn't

The world record that nearly wasn't

Twenty years ago this week, Brian Lara became Test cricket's highest scorer, but he almost didn't make it. More »

Moores gets second stint as coach

Moores gets second stint as coach

In a two-year spell from 2007 to 2009, the 51-year-old Moores led England in seven Test series. More »

BCCI is not anybody’s property — Dalmiya

BCCI is not anybody’s property — Dalmiya

Dalmiya feels that Srinivasan’s ‘power hungry’ attitude isn’t helping matters. More »

Tough for bowlers: Saeed Ajmal

Tough for bowlers: Saeed Ajmal

The 36-year-old believes the T20 format and rule changes in 50-over matches have made a real difference. More »

Bangladesh senior players to see shrink

Bangladesh senior players to see shrink

Bangladesh's senior players will have three sessions with a psychological skill development coach later this month More »

KP ridicules idea of day-night Tests

KP ridicules idea of day-night Tests

Kevin Pietersen has ridiculed the idea of day-night Test cricket, saying the game would be so different to proper Test cricket that we will need a whole… More »

Rajasthan edge low-scoring thriller

Rajasthan edge low-scoring thriller

The bowlers restricted Hyderabad to 133 for 6 before Rahane and Binny took Rajasthan over the line. More »

BCCI members want independent probe

BCCI members want independent probe

The board members are realising after the Supreme Court's observations that something has to be done — IS Bindra More »

Maxwell blitz takes Punjab home

Maxwell blitz takes Punjab home

The Kings XI batsman blasted a 43-ball 95 to help his team pull off a massive chase against Chennai Super Kings. More »

'BCCI lacks leaders to take on Srini'

'BCCI lacks leaders to take on Srini'

Two former BCCI presidents, Shashank Manohar and Jagmohan Dalmiya, have reacted strongly to the news of the BCCI calling an emergent meeting on Sunday… More »

Delhi look for first points against confident Kolkata

Delhi look for first points against confident Kolkata

Preview — The threat of Sunil Narine looms large again. More »

Bangalore vs Mumbai: A battle of the big-hitters

Bangalore vs Mumbai: A battle of the big-hitters

Preview — Given the firepower in both line-ups, Dubai crowd may see another high-scorer More »

Yuvraj tees off to Sharjah's delight

Yuvraj tees off to Sharjah's delight

Yuvraj Singh was hardly convincing to begin with against Delhi, but a big dose of crowd support and a helping of poor bowling meant he had the opportunity… More »

Stressed Trott stands down again

Stressed Trott stands down again

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) on Friday confirmed that batsman Jonathan Trott is to take another break from all cricket with immediate eff… More »

PCB starts another coach hunt

PCB starts another coach hunt

The PCB has decided to not extend the contracts of head coach Moin Khan, fielding coach Shoaib Mohammad and batting consultant Zaheer Abbas, and has invited… More »

Fiery star Stokes bids to curb his temper

Fiery star Stokes bids to curb his temper

England all-rounder Ben Stokes admits he must keep his anger under control if he is to end his international exile. More »

Bangalore's arsenal blazes to victory

Bangalore's arsenal blazes to victory

Yuvraj Singh was back to his best in his first match for Royal Challengers Bangalore. More »