India Election 2019: The Congress Coalition Conundrum

Coalition-building will be an important tool for both BJP and Congress in 2019 General Polls, writes Richard Rossow.

2 min read
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Ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha election, several parties opposed to the Narendra Modi-led Bharatiya Janata Party are rallying around the idea of forming state-level coalitions to block the BJP’s dominance.

Such a strategy is regularly touted by Congress President Rahul Gandhi. However, among India’s fifteen largest states, representing 85 percent of India’s Parliament seats, about half are unlikely to be impacted by such a strategy.

But with a somewhat weakened BJP, coalition-building will be an important tool for both major parties.

In the following chart, I review the important “coalition building” contests to watch in the months ahead, looking at how key parties fared in the 2014 Lok Sabha election.

In many states, the main fight will be directly between the BJP and Congress, with regional parties playing a very minor role. There are several states where the BJP remains quite weak and is not expected to contest for a substantial number of seats.


The energy behind the possible creation of unusual coalitions may wane in the coming months. With more modest success in recent state-level elections such as Karnataka and Goa, many Indian political analysts point to a decline in the BJP’s fortunes. Still, the BJP remains India’s national political juggernaut, which could prompt marriages of convenience between political enemies to turn India’s national political tide.

(This story was originally published on BloombergQuint)

(Richard Rossow is the Wadhwani Chair in US India Policy Studies at The Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington DC. This is an opinion piece and the views expressed above are the author’s own. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for the same.)

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