The contrasting INDIA, NDA alliance equations in Phase 4 of Lok Sabha elections | Latest News India

The Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance (INDIA), led by the Congress, is facing significant intra-alliance conflicts in the fourth phase of polling compared to the previous phase, an analysis of candidate affidavits by the Hindustan Times shows. In contrast, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) remains largely unified, with only minor conflicts in two constituencies.

In the 96 PCs voting today the NDA has fielded 97 1715540889728
In the 96 PCs voting today, the NDA has fielded 97 candidates across 95 PCs, with a notional intra-alliance conflict in just two PCs. (AP)

To be sure, even the intra-alliance conflicts in INDIA are largely notional outside the eight parliamentary constituencies (PCs) in West Bengal, where the Trinamool Congress (TMC) failed to partner with the Congress and the Communist Party of India (Marxist) or CPI(M).

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In the 96 PCs voting today, the NDA has fielded 97 candidates across 95 PCs, with a notional intra-alliance conflict in just two PCs. These conflicts are in a constituency each in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, where the Republican Party of India (Athawale), a party with no Lok Sabha MP, has fielded a candidate against the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) and the BJP, respectively. On the other hand, no member of the alliance is contesting the Srinagar seat in Jammu & Kashmir.

The alliance arithmetic of the NDA in the current phase also shows another interesting trend. While the BJP continues to be the biggest partner in the alliance in even this phase, it is contesting the smallest proportion of PCs in any phase so far: It is fighting in 72.9% of the seats voting in this phase, compared to 75.5%, 79.5%, and 87.1% of the PCs that voted in the first three phases.

This trend is explained by the BJP having given 17 of Andhra Pradesh’s 25 PCs to the TDP, the second largest constituent in the NDA in this phase of polls. The TDP is also the second largest constituent of the NDA at the all-India level. All other NDA members are contesting three seats or less in this phase.

To be sure, this is partly a reflection of the fact that Bihar and Maharashtra elections (where the BJP has shared seats roughly equally with allies) are staggered over seven and five phases. In the voting scheduled today, only 11 and five PCs of Maharashtra and Bihar are voting.

In sharp contrast to the NDA, the INDIA group has fielded 148 candidates across 95 PCs, with intra-alliance conflicts in 48 seats. The INDIA alliance has no candidate in Indore, where the Congress candidate withdrew his nomination, and no other INDIA member is contesting.

To be sure, intra-alliance conflicts in a large proportion of constituencies is not necessarily a result of Congress failing to concede seats to allies, at least not in every such PC. The party is contesting just 61 of 96 seats in the current phase (63.5%). It had contested 54.9%, 79.5%, and 73.1% PCs in the first three phases.

So why are there a large number of intra-alliance conflicts in the INDIA group despite the Congress not contesting a high proportion of seats? The party is not contesting a higher proportion of seats because it is the smaller partner in Bihar, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, and West Bengal; and is contesting just 10 of the 41 seats in these states going to polls in the current phase.

However, in West Bengal, the party has made a formal seat-sharing arrangement only with the CPI(M). Here the Congress and CPI(M) are in conflict with the TMC in all the eight seats of the state going to polls. A similar conflict is between the Jammu and Kashmir National Conference (NC) and the Jammu & Kashmir Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Srinagar.

Other conflicts for the INDIA alliance are because of its smaller constituents fielding candidates in PCs where they do not have a formal seat-sharing arrangement. The All India Forward Bloc (AIFB), for example, is contesting 13 PCs, all in conflict with other INDIA members. Six of these PCs are in Andhra Pradesh, three in Telangana, two in Uttar Pradesh, and one each in Maharashtra and Odisha. Similarly, Bharat Adivasi Party (BAP), Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP), and the Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK) are in conflict in all seven, four, and eight PCs they are contesting, respectively.

The Communist Party of India (CPI) is also in conflict in four of the five PCs (all except Begusarai in Bihar). Samajwadi Party (SP), on the other hand, has created a similar conflict in seven Andhra Pradesh PCs and one Odisha PC, while it faces such a conflict from CPI and AIFB in two PCs in Uttar Pradesh.

Who had won these PCs where INDIA members are in conflict in 2019? Half of these 48 PCs were won by parties that were neither in a BJP-led alliance nor in a Congress-led one. The YSRCP had won 14 PCs, the TRS seven, and the TDP, BJD, and the AIMIM had won one PC each. The BJP had won another 15 PCs. INDIA members of 2024 had won only eight of these 48 PCs in 2019: the Congress two PCs, the TMC four, and the undivided Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and Shiv Sena had won one each. To be sure, this seat distribution in conflict PCs is partly a reflection of the overall 2019 performance of non-NDA, non-INDIA parties in the PCs voting today. If PCs are grouped by the seven phases of 2024 elections, non-NDA and non-INDIA parties had the highest share in 2019 in the fourth phase PCs.

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