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'INDIA' vs BJP: 5 Big Takeaways From the Opposition and NDA Meetings

What do the meetings mean in the build-up to the 2024 Lok Sabha elections?

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Irrespective of who wins in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, Tuesday, 18 July, will be remembered as a historic day that laid down the battle lines.

On the one hand, 26 Opposition parties came together in Bengaluru and announced the formation of the Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance, or INDIA.

On the other hand, the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) had a massively expanded meeting, with as many as 38 parties in attendance.

Here are five key takeaways from the two meetings and what they mean in the build-up to the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.

'INDIA' vs BJP: 5 Big Takeaways From the Opposition and NDA Meetings

  1. 1. 1. 'United Opposition' Playing on the Minds of BJP Top Brass

    It was uncharacteristic to see BJP president JP Nadda emphasise the fact that 38 parties are attending the NDA meeting. Uncharacteristic, because the BJP's standard argument against the efforts to to unite the Opposition has been that all these parties have to come together to take on one man – Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

    This had been been an effective narrative from the BJP's perspective so far. So, it is strange to see the BJP try and compete with the Opposition in terms of the number of parties on their side.

    What do the meetings mean in the build-up to the 2024 Lok Sabha elections?

    The NDA meeting in Delhi, on Tuesday,18 July.

    (Photo: PTI)

    Many of the parties in this 38 don't even have MPs. PM Modi clearly wants to expand the NDA. In a clear overture to estranged allies, Modi said, "Leaders like Parkash Singh Badal, Balasaheb Thackeray, Ajit Singh and Sharad Yadav contributed in shaping NDA".

    The impact of the Opposition meeting on the BJP was also evident in the manner in which PM Modi attacked them during his address on Tuesday, calling them 'corrupt' and 'family-run'.

    It is clear that the BJP leadership didn't want the Opposition to dominate the headlines at any cost.

    Expand
  2. 2. 2. Arithmetic vs Narrative

    So far, the pattern has been that the Opposition's USP has been its arithmetic, while that of the BJP has been the narrative of Modi's popularity.

    During the 18 July meetings, the roles were reversed a bit, with the BJP trying to work on its arithmetic and the Opposition trying to get the narrative right.

    For instance, the BJP has brought on board smaller parties in the two states where the arithmetic seemed stacked against it the most – Bihar and Maharashtra.

    In Bihar, Chirag Paswan's LJP, Jitan Ram Manjhi's Hindustan Awam Morcha, and Upendra Kushwaha's RLJD joined the NDA and were part of the meeting. In Maharashtra, the BJP has secured the support of Ajit Pawar and his supporters from the NCP.

    What do the meetings mean in the build-up to the 2024 Lok Sabha elections?

    BJP president JP Nadda welcomed Chirag Paswan into the NDA.

    (Photo: Chirag Paswan/Twitter)

    The Bengaluru meet showed, meanwhile, showed a realisation among the Opposition parties that narrative matters, in addition to arithmetic.

    For instance, there is a clear attempt to turn the narrative from 'Modi vs Oppostion' to 'INDIA vs NDA'.

    The Opposition seems to be careful not to repeat the mistake that Opposition parties committed in the 1971 elections with the 'Indira Hatao' slogan, which was swiftly countered by Indira Gandhi's 'Garibi Hatao'.

    The present Opposition seems to be pitching their battle as one to 'save India' rather than 'remove Modi'. Interestingly, the Opposition has taken a leaf out of PM Modi's book by making clever use of acronyms to name their alliance as INDIA - Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance. This forced Modi to react and give a new definition of NDA. The BJP is also likely to try and make it 'Bharat' vs 'India'.

    The Opposition parties were careful to avoid controversial issues like Uniform Civil Code, with Kharge saying there is no need to react when there has been no proposal or draft.

    Expand
  3. 3. 3. Changing Equations in Uttar Pradesh

    Though it is comfortably placed in Uttar Pradesh, the BJP has included OP Rajbhar's SBSP in the NDA. Rajbhar was part of the Samajwadi Party-led alliance in the Assembly elections.

    This is an important development as the creation of the 'INDIA' alliance has created space for the SP, Congress, and RLD to come together.

    What do the meetings mean in the build-up to the 2024 Lok Sabha elections?

    Rahul Gandhi and Akhilesh Yadav at the Opposition meeting in Bengaluru.

    (Photo: PTI)

    The visuals from the Bengaluru meet showed some bonhomie between Rahul Gandhi and Akhilesh Yadav. RLD chief Jayant Chaudhary, too, was present at the meeting.

    Expand
  4. 4. 4. BJP and Congress Acknowledge the Need for Accommodation

    There seems to be a realisation on the part of both the BJP and the Congress that they may need to accommodate other parties.

    For instance, when PM Modi arrived at the venue for the NDA meeting, he was received at the entrance by leaders of key allied parties – Maharashtra CM Eknath Shinde, Nagaland CM Neiphu Rio, former Tamil Nadu CM Edappadi Palanisamy, and former Bihar CM Jitan Ram Manjhi.

    What do the meetings mean in the build-up to the 2024 Lok Sabha elections?

    PM Modi being greeted by leaders at the NDA meeting in Delhi.

    (Photo: PTI)

    Even on the dais, Rio, Palanisamy, and Shinde were present right on the front row along with Modi, Nadda, and former BJP chiefs Amit Shah, Nitin Gadkari, and Rajnath Singh. There also seems to be an attempt to accomodate ideologically diverse parties and downplay Hindutva with PM Modi claiming that the NDA is walking down the path laid by Mahatma Gandhi, Babasaheb Ambedkar and Ram Manohar Lohia.

    At the Bengaluru meet, a great deal of prominence was given to two Opposition parties that have had the most troubled equation with the Congress – the Trinamool Congress and the Aam Aadmi Party.

    Mamata Banerjee, Arvind Kejriwal, and Uddhav Thackeray were the only non-Congress leaders who spoke at the presser, along with Kharge and Rahul Gandhi from the Congress, besides Jairam Ramesh who moderated.

    What do the meetings mean in the build-up to the 2024 Lok Sabha elections?

    Deputy CM of Karnataka DK Shivakumar with AAP chief and Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal.

    (Photo: PTI)

    This is an important gesture on the part of the Congress and reflects the party's desire to make the alliance work. Karnataka Congress chief DK Shivakumar is also said to have taken extra effort to ensure that the leaders of all the parties are comfortable and treated with due respect. Both Kejriwal and Banerjee thanked the Karnataka Congress for their hospitality.

    Of course, the sharing of space by the BJP and Congress are far from comparable. The NDA is still a one-party dominated alliance as opposed to 'INDIA', where non-Congress parties have sizable strength.

    What do the meetings mean in the build-up to the 2024 Lok Sabha elections?

    The NDA meeting in Delhi.

    (Photo: PTI)

    This was clear in the optics from the two meetings. While Modi's figure loomed large in the flex at the NDA meeting, the Opposition meeting's flex focused on the slogan 'United We Stand'.

    What do the meetings mean in the build-up to the 2024 Lok Sabha elections?

    The Opposition meeting in Bengaluru.

    (Photo: PTI)

    Expand
  5. 5. 5. What Lies Ahead?

    Both sides seem to have some kind of a roadmap in mind. While the BJP will continue to showcase PM Modi's personal popularity and 'achievements', the expansion of the NDA is likely to continue if not intensify.

    The focus would be on whether the BJP brings on board the Telugu Desam Party in Andhra Pradesh. This is a double-edged sword. While it would no doubt make the NDA a major player in the state, it could potentially push the ruling YSRCP towards the non-NDA front.

    Similarly, there is the case of the Shiromani Akali Dal. There is some goodwill between the two parties and an alliance can help come into contention in a few seats in Punjab in the Lok Sabha elections. However, there are major concerns regarding vote transfer between the two parties as many core supporters of one party don't quite like the other party.

    Expand

1. 'United Opposition' Playing on the Minds of BJP Top Brass

It was uncharacteristic to see BJP president JP Nadda emphasise the fact that 38 parties are attending the NDA meeting. Uncharacteristic, because the BJP's standard argument against the efforts to to unite the Opposition has been that all these parties have to come together to take on one man – Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

This had been been an effective narrative from the BJP's perspective so far. So, it is strange to see the BJP try and compete with the Opposition in terms of the number of parties on their side.

What do the meetings mean in the build-up to the 2024 Lok Sabha elections?

The NDA meeting in Delhi, on Tuesday,18 July.

(Photo: PTI)

Many of the parties in this 38 don't even have MPs. PM Modi clearly wants to expand the NDA. In a clear overture to estranged allies, Modi said, "Leaders like Parkash Singh Badal, Balasaheb Thackeray, Ajit Singh and Sharad Yadav contributed in shaping NDA".

The impact of the Opposition meeting on the BJP was also evident in the manner in which PM Modi attacked them during his address on Tuesday, calling them 'corrupt' and 'family-run'.

It is clear that the BJP leadership didn't want the Opposition to dominate the headlines at any cost.

ADVERTISEMENTREMOVE AD

2. Arithmetic vs Narrative

So far, the pattern has been that the Opposition's USP has been its arithmetic, while that of the BJP has been the narrative of Modi's popularity.

During the 18 July meetings, the roles were reversed a bit, with the BJP trying to work on its arithmetic and the Opposition trying to get the narrative right.

For instance, the BJP has brought on board smaller parties in the two states where the arithmetic seemed stacked against it the most – Bihar and Maharashtra.

In Bihar, Chirag Paswan's LJP, Jitan Ram Manjhi's Hindustan Awam Morcha, and Upendra Kushwaha's RLJD joined the NDA and were part of the meeting. In Maharashtra, the BJP has secured the support of Ajit Pawar and his supporters from the NCP.

What do the meetings mean in the build-up to the 2024 Lok Sabha elections?

BJP president JP Nadda welcomed Chirag Paswan into the NDA.

(Photo: Chirag Paswan/Twitter)

The Bengaluru meet showed, meanwhile, showed a realisation among the Opposition parties that narrative matters, in addition to arithmetic.

For instance, there is a clear attempt to turn the narrative from 'Modi vs Oppostion' to 'INDIA vs NDA'.

The Opposition seems to be careful not to repeat the mistake that Opposition parties committed in the 1971 elections with the 'Indira Hatao' slogan, which was swiftly countered by Indira Gandhi's 'Garibi Hatao'.

The present Opposition seems to be pitching their battle as one to 'save India' rather than 'remove Modi'. Interestingly, the Opposition has taken a leaf out of PM Modi's book by making clever use of acronyms to name their alliance as INDIA - Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance. This forced Modi to react and give a new definition of NDA. The BJP is also likely to try and make it 'Bharat' vs 'India'.

The Opposition parties were careful to avoid controversial issues like Uniform Civil Code, with Kharge saying there is no need to react when there has been no proposal or draft.

0

3. Changing Equations in Uttar Pradesh

Though it is comfortably placed in Uttar Pradesh, the BJP has included OP Rajbhar's SBSP in the NDA. Rajbhar was part of the Samajwadi Party-led alliance in the Assembly elections.

This is an important development as the creation of the 'INDIA' alliance has created space for the SP, Congress, and RLD to come together.

What do the meetings mean in the build-up to the 2024 Lok Sabha elections?

Rahul Gandhi and Akhilesh Yadav at the Opposition meeting in Bengaluru.

(Photo: PTI)

The visuals from the Bengaluru meet showed some bonhomie between Rahul Gandhi and Akhilesh Yadav. RLD chief Jayant Chaudhary, too, was present at the meeting.

ADVERTISEMENT

4. BJP and Congress Acknowledge the Need for Accommodation

There seems to be a realisation on the part of both the BJP and the Congress that they may need to accommodate other parties.

For instance, when PM Modi arrived at the venue for the NDA meeting, he was received at the entrance by leaders of key allied parties – Maharashtra CM Eknath Shinde, Nagaland CM Neiphu Rio, former Tamil Nadu CM Edappadi Palanisamy, and former Bihar CM Jitan Ram Manjhi.

What do the meetings mean in the build-up to the 2024 Lok Sabha elections?

PM Modi being greeted by leaders at the NDA meeting in Delhi.

(Photo: PTI)

Even on the dais, Rio, Palanisamy, and Shinde were present right on the front row along with Modi, Nadda, and former BJP chiefs Amit Shah, Nitin Gadkari, and Rajnath Singh. There also seems to be an attempt to accomodate ideologically diverse parties and downplay Hindutva with PM Modi claiming that the NDA is walking down the path laid by Mahatma Gandhi, Babasaheb Ambedkar and Ram Manohar Lohia.

At the Bengaluru meet, a great deal of prominence was given to two Opposition parties that have had the most troubled equation with the Congress – the Trinamool Congress and the Aam Aadmi Party.

Mamata Banerjee, Arvind Kejriwal, and Uddhav Thackeray were the only non-Congress leaders who spoke at the presser, along with Kharge and Rahul Gandhi from the Congress, besides Jairam Ramesh who moderated.

What do the meetings mean in the build-up to the 2024 Lok Sabha elections?

Deputy CM of Karnataka DK Shivakumar with AAP chief and Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal.

(Photo: PTI)

This is an important gesture on the part of the Congress and reflects the party's desire to make the alliance work. Karnataka Congress chief DK Shivakumar is also said to have taken extra effort to ensure that the leaders of all the parties are comfortable and treated with due respect. Both Kejriwal and Banerjee thanked the Karnataka Congress for their hospitality.

Of course, the sharing of space by the BJP and Congress are far from comparable. The NDA is still a one-party dominated alliance as opposed to 'INDIA', where non-Congress parties have sizable strength.

What do the meetings mean in the build-up to the 2024 Lok Sabha elections?

The NDA meeting in Delhi.

(Photo: PTI)

This was clear in the optics from the two meetings. While Modi's figure loomed large in the flex at the NDA meeting, the Opposition meeting's flex focused on the slogan 'United We Stand'.

What do the meetings mean in the build-up to the 2024 Lok Sabha elections?

The Opposition meeting in Bengaluru.

(Photo: PTI)

ADVERTISEMENTREMOVE AD

5. What Lies Ahead?

Both sides seem to have some kind of a roadmap in mind. While the BJP will continue to showcase PM Modi's personal popularity and 'achievements', the expansion of the NDA is likely to continue if not intensify.

The focus would be on whether the BJP brings on board the Telugu Desam Party in Andhra Pradesh. This is a double-edged sword. While it would no doubt make the NDA a major player in the state, it could potentially push the ruling YSRCP towards the non-NDA front.

Similarly, there is the case of the Shiromani Akali Dal. There is some goodwill between the two parties and an alliance can help come into contention in a few seats in Punjab in the Lok Sabha elections. However, there are major concerns regarding vote transfer between the two parties as many core supporters of one party don't quite like the other party.

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The next step for the Opposition would be the formation of the 11-member coordination committee that was announced on Tuesday.

This is likely to have senior representatives from top parties like the Congress, TMC, Samajwadi Party, AAP, JD-U, RJD, DMK, NCP, Shiv Sena UBT, and the Left. It is possible that the Congress and CPI-M representatives may act on behalf of the smaller and older allies of the two parties.

There are also likely to be a number of protests or rallies by Opposition parties, besides the next meeting scheduled in Mumbai, where issues like a Common Minimum Programme are likely to come up.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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Topics:  Bengaluru   NDA   NDA Alliance 

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