The Recent Congress Victory in Telangana and Its Implications On Political Alliances
The Congress party’s recent victory in Telangana, following a win in Karnataka, has sparked discussions about a potential North-South divide in the choices made by voters. The party’s failure to succeed in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Chhattisgarh has only intensified these discussions. Some Congress leaders have taken to social media to amplify this perceived North-South divide, but they have been met with opposition from BJP leaders who argue that attempting to categorize the electorate’s choice along regional lines would be unproductive.
The Telangana verdict, indicating a resurgence of the Congress, signifies the ongoing fluctuation in the party’s relationship with regional players such as the DMK and the Left, veering between being “frenemies” and “allies” during both pre-poll and post-poll periods. With the Congress’s diminished presence in the North, the DMK is expected to reassess seat-sharing arrangements. Many DMK strategists believe that their party must secure more seats independently to effectively contend with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP in the 2024 elections. Consequently, the Congress may be compelled to accept whatever the DMK offers, given its historical reliance on coalition support.
In the 2019 elections, the DMK-led alliance claimed victory in 38 of the 39 seats from Tamil Nadu, with the DMK winning all 20 seats it contested and the Congress securing eight of the nine seats it was allocated. However, there have been murmurs within the Congress that it should be allotted 15 seats, a demand that has lost momentum following the party’s defeat in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, and Rajasthan. The Congress is no longer able to leverage its national strength in bargaining with the DMK. As an alternative, the Congress may be inclined to explore aligning with the AIADMK, which has already distanced itself from the BJP. The question arises as to whether the Congress leadership would even entertain such a notion, despite concerns voiced by Tamil Nadu Congress leaders about anti-incumbency issues and corruption charges against DMK ministers.
In Kerala, the Left is anticipated to strategically vie for as many Lok Sabha seats as possible, with Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan endeavoring to prevent the Congress-led UDF from replicating its 2019 performance when it secured 19 of the 20 seats. The CPI(M) leadership recognizes that Kerala presents a unique opportunity to bolster their presence in the 18th Lok Sabha, especially given the formidable presence of the Trinamool Congress and BJP in West Bengal and Tripura, where the Marxists also have a substantial influence.
On the BJP’s part, prospects in South India are far from disregarded. The upcoming elections will include 131 seats out of the 543 Lok Sabha seats, featuring 40 in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry, 28 in Karnataka, 25 in Andhra Pradesh, 20 in Kerala, 17 in Telangana, and one in Lakshadweep. Despite experiencing a decline in momentum leading up to the November 30 election in Telangana, the BJP managed to double its vote share, achieving its best performance to date. The BJP has also set its sights on achieving a two-digit tally in the 2024 Lok Sabha polls in Telangana, building on its success in securing four seats in the state during the 2019 elections.
In Karnataka, where the BJP secured 25 of the 28 Lok Sabha seats in 2019, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and Deputy CM DK Shivakumar are currently focused on ensuring the party secures at least 15 seats in the upcoming elections. However, internal political dynamics between the two leaders may complicate the party’s efforts to maintain its current standing. The Congress, on the other hand, can rely on the substantial financial resources in Karnataka and Telangana to prepare for the parliamentary elections.
In Andhra Pradesh, the Congress may anticipate a resurgence following the victory in Telangana, particularly as the state assembly and Lok Sabha elections are set to be held concurrently. With the TDP and JSP formalizing an alliance for the 2024 elections in Andhra Pradesh, the BJP plans to operate independently and seek to bolster its vote share. The BJP has identified 10 Lok Sabha constituencies to concentrate on, with a strategic focus on several key segments where it has previously secured a substantive vote share.
Overall, political discourse in South India is primed for intense competition in the Lok Sabha polls, and the BJP’s presence cannot be discounted despite the absence of a concrete North-South electoral divide. As the region gears up for electoral battles, the landscape is poised for significant shifts in political alliances and power dynamics.