The BJP And Its Treatment Of Allies Since 2014 General Elections

The ‘TsuNamo’ dashed on the Indian political shores in the 2014 general elections. Barring a few hiccups hither and thither, the Modi-Shah duo has been substantially impregnable. The journey of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) since 2014 saw many never-seen-before episodes, phenomena, decisions and strategies. Of these, the alliances forged by the BJP could be a point of discussion.

Barring a few hiccups hither and thither, the Modi-Shah duo has been substantially impregnable. Image Source: Getty

In its quest for a ‘Congress Mukt Bharat’, the BJP seems to stoop to any possible level. The desperation depicted by the party to stitch together opportunistic coalitions (e.g. Goa, Meghalaya, Manipur, Jammu and Kashmir) is a testimony of its power-mongering attitude. Although, “In politics, there are no permanent friends, no permanent enemies, but permanent interests” (quote by Patience Johnson), there exists a code of conduct, morals, and a line of ethical principles in politics as well, which should not be crossed over.

The ill-treatment meted out by the BJP to its regional allies and the betrayal of the promises made, amount to the greatest possible display of the ‘use and throw’ policy. From being a ‘party with a difference’ once upon a time to getting reduced to a profit-making Pvt. Ltd. company, the BJP acts too beguiled in times of need but is equally haughty once its objectives are acquired.

The BJP And Its Treatment Of Allies

Below is a list of some of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) partners and their relationships with the BJP since 2014:

1. Jammu and Kashmir Peoples Democratic Party (Jammu and Kashmir)

In the backdrop of the fractured mandate in the assembly elections, the most ‘unnatural alliance’ was formed between the BJP and the then Mufti Mohammad Sayeed-led JKPDP in 2015. After the demise of Sayeed, the North Pole-South Pole nexus was further strained under Mehbooba Mufti, with the ground situation in Kashmir deteriorating in the four years the coalition took charge. With the Lok Sabha polls looming around in less than a year, the saffron party dumped its partner in June 2018 to go ahead with its usual  jumla of abrogating Article 370 and resolving the Kashmir issue.

2. Shiromani Akali Dal (Punjab)

In the run-up to the 2019 state assembly elections in Haryana, the BJP inducted the lone Haryana SAD MLA Balkaur Singh in its fold. The move was condemned as the violation of the dignity of their alliance by the SAD.

3. Rashtriya Lok Samata Party (Bihar)

Bolstered by its alliance with the JD(U), the BJP announced that the Upendra Kushwaha-led RLSP would not get to contest more than two Lok Sabha seats in the ensuing 2019 general elections. Disgruntled by the arrogant attitude of the BJP, the RLSP quit NDA ahead of the polls.

4. Janata Dal (United) (Bihar)

After contesting the 2015 assembly elections as a part of the Mahagathbandhan, the Nitish Kumar-led JD(U) returned to the NDA fold in 2017. The BJP was more than quick enough to lend support and be a part of the government. After a clean sweep in the 2019 general elections, the JD(U) was offered just one ministerial berth in the Modi ministry. Disappointed, the JD(U) refused to join the union government, stating that there was no need for symbolic representation.

5. Apna Dal (Uttar Pradesh)

The Anupriya Patel-led party was promised a berth in the Modi ministry, but the promise was left unfulfilled.

6. Sikkim Democratic Front (Sikkim)

In August 2019, the BJP poached 10 MLAs of the SDF to its fold.

7. Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (West Bengal)

The GJM was instrumental in the saffron party making inroads in West Bengal by helping it win the Darjeeling Lok Sabha seat in 2009 and 2014. However, the resolution of the demand by the GJM for the separate state of Gorkhaland was not even attempted by the BJP.

8. Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party and Goa Forward Party (Goa)

Falling well short of the majority mark, the BJP formed a government in Goa with the support of the MGP and the GFP in 2017 under the leadership of Manohar Parrikar. After the demise of Parrikar in March 2019, the BJP poached the MGP MLAs. After 12 out of 17 Congress MLAs defected to the BJP, the saffron party literally kicked off the GFP. Use and throw at its peak!

9. Shiv Sena (Maharashtra)

The Shiv Sena has been the most discontented allies of the BJP, with the saffron parties sharing a bittersweet relationship for the last five years. The BJP has left no stone unturned to humiliate its ally, with the Sena quashed to play a junior partner in the state. Just one cabinet berth has been allotted to the Shiv Sena in the Modi ministry.

10. The Mahayuti constituents (Maharashtra)

The smaller outfits like the Republican Party of India (A), the Rashtriya Samaj Paksha and the Rayat Kranti Sanghatna have been reduced to mere vote bank politics, with them contesting on the BJP symbol in the 2019 assembly elections.

11. All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (Tamil Nadu)

In an effort to make inroads in the southern state of Tamil Nadu, the BJP allied with the AIADMK ahead of the 2019 general elections. The alliance failed miserably, and the AIADMK is nowhere in the reckoning, with no representation in the union government.

The performance of the recently formed BJP-JJP alliance (another opportunistic nexus) in Haryana remains to be seen. Also, more political drama waits to be unfolded ahead of the Bihar assembly elections next year.

With the BJP enjoying a comfortable majority with 303 seats in the Lok Sabha, chances are quite dim that the egotism possessed by it will be discarded any time soon. Times do change, and it’s a dire need for the BJP to follow the coalition dharma. Even the ideological mentor of the party, the RSS, expressed concerns about the attitude of the party, stating that although the present moves would result in boosting the numbers, eventually the growth of the party would be hampered.

The recent verdicts in the Haryana and Maharashtra assembly elections should apply some brakes on the otherwise insurmountable BJP with the increased dependency on its allies. ‘Ability to win elections’ should not be the only parameter, and the party needs to retrospect, and self analyse its current style of functioning and get back on track from its present derailment by adhering to the ideologies of the founding fathers of the party. ‘Pride goes before a fall’; the BJP should remember this.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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