Is coalition era over in India?
Has the victory of India's Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in state legislature polls in Maharashtra and Haryana on its own set the ball rolling for end of coalition politics that has been in vogue in India for nearly two decades?
As BJP seized power in Haryana on its own for the first time and emerged as the single largest party for the first time in Maharashtra where it had earlier played second fiddle to its erstwhile ally Shiv Sena, the questions doing the rounds in political circles is: is the coalition era over and are the stranglehold of regional parties are on the wane?
BJP took the big risk of pursuing “ekla cholo rey” (going it alone) policy for the elections to assemblies in Maharashtra and Haryana , discarding alliance with key regional players, especially in Haryana where it had traditionally had very little presence and organisational strength.
The BJP had never before fought more than 119 state assembly seats in Maharashtra Haryana and more than 26 seats in Haryana and the party's tally this year has given a boost to the bold “go-it-alone” strategy of Amit Shah.
The BJP's 25-year tie-up with Shiv Sena in Maharashtra came apart less than a month before the elections as BJP chief Amit Shah was determined that his party should not any more play the role of a junior partner to Shiv Sena.
Do the results in Maharashtra and Haryana indicate the resurgence of national parties in states where there are power regional satraps and the relegation of those satraps to second position? In Maharashtra, regional party Shiv Sena was pushed down to second spot in terms of seats with 63, almost half that of BJP (123) and in Haryana, INLD was the second largest party with 20 seats after BJP (47).
BJP's future strategy seems to be using the Modi charisma to dent the dominance of regional political players.
Fresh legislative assembly elections are due to in eastern states of Bihar, Jharkhand and Jammu and Kashmir in the next few months. In Bihar and Jharkhand, local BJP leaders are pinning their hopes to capture power in coming polls banking on turning existing caste and tribe equations on their heads as in Haryana and relying on Modi's popularity.
Further ahead, BJP is looking at shoring up its position in West Bengal and Assam states where fresh elections to legislative assemblies are due in the first half of the year 2016.