From 1989-2014, no party managed to get a majority in the Lok Sabha and hence the Opposition found itself in a position of strength. The Congress, the BJP and the Janata Dal all found themselves either in power or as a strong Opposition.
The CPM also gave its best showing in 2004 and almost all the regional players managed to make the ruling government dance to its tune at one brief time or the other in the last 25 years.
However not only has this been the first majority mandate in 30 years, it is also one where the entire Opposition finds itself wiped out. Not a single party or leader is giving any sort of challenge to Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the national level.
A look at some of them…
1. Congress: They could not even get the official Leader of the Opposition status. With 44 seats, they have limited bargaining power. In the past, no matter who was in power in the Centre, the Congress ruled most of the States. But even that is changing.
In the Northeast in terms of CMs the Congress leads the BJP 4-0. In the rest of India, BJP leads 7-4. However with the BJP get 7 Lok Sabha seats in Assam itself and the BJP winning in one State after another we could soon have a BJP monopoly.
2. Left parties: Let’s face it: The CPM and CPI are no longer really national parties. 2004 was their last hurrah. West Bengal is crumbling and they will be left with a presence only in Kerala and certain pockets of the Northeast.
3. Dravidian parties: The DMK stood tall in 2009. But then they were plagued by scandal and infighting (MK Stalin versus MK Alagiri). With Karunanidhi turning 90 and fading steadily, a revival is tough. After the Lok Sabha polls, Jayalalithaa with her 37 seats seemed a credible opponent to Modi.
She even got the LS Deputy Speaker position for her party and could pull her weight in the Rajya Sabha. However, she has been debarred from contesting elections and if convicted, the ADMK will really struggle.None of the other Dravidian parties have mounted a credible challenge.
4. Janata Parties: The Janata Party toppled the mighty Indira Gandhi and the Janata Dal her son Rajiv. It may have splintered, but the splinter groups made sure that the sum was far greater than the parts. Not anymore. The SP, JD(U), RJD, JD(S) etc all look shadows of their former selves.
5. BSP: Mayawati once ruled Uttar Pradesh and Kanshi Ram tried to develop his home State of Punjab. Once Mayawati aimed to capture Lok Sabha seats from all over India, but in 2014 she couldn’t get a single one from even UP.
6. TMC: After Jaya, Mamata with 33 Lok Sabha seats seemed a worthy Opposition to the BJP. But the Saradha scam and terror plots being unearthed in West Bengal have severely weakened her. A BJP march in her home State means that the next elections could well see a hung Assembly.
7. Andhra parties: Today Jaganmohan Reddy is nowhere and KC Rao is making a mess of Telangana. Chandrababu Naidu has firmly hitched his wagon with the BJP.
8. Sena parties: Raj Thackeray has been wiped out in 2014 and with the way he is going, Uddhav may be wiped out in 2019. Some had predicted this would happen once Balasaheb Thackeray left the stage, but nobody thought it could happen so soon.
9. BJD: Naveen Patnaik always remained aloof and cut off from the other Janata parties. He became CM in 2000 and could complete 19 years in 2019! However the Orissa chit fund scam has already nabbed many people close to him and his thrust will be more on survival from now on.
10. Kashmir parties: One opinion poll put the BJP as the single-largest party in J&K. Totally unthinkable even 2-3 years back. What this means that if the PDP or NC want to come to power, they need the BJP and can’t oppose it.
11. Others: Look at all the other parties. Whether it’s the INLD or the JMM, no-one can challenge the BJP. Even parties like the SAD need the BJP more that the BJP needs them. Parties like the AAP were pretenders and never real challengers.
What this means is that Modi with his white beard has suddenly transformed into Mo’ White and the 11 Dwarves.
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The author is a Bangalore-based journalist and blogger. He blogs here.