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PM Modi won’t face difficulties handling coalition partners

Editor's ChoicePM Modi won’t face difficulties handling coalition partners

NEW DELHI: Even in 1975, Narendra Modi, as a young RSS activist was working with leaders like socialist George Fernandes and Congress’ Ravindra Varma to conduct activities opposing the Emergency.

Not only TV news channels but also influential people from Mumbai and Bengaluru are asking me if Narendra Modi can run a coalition government. Can he withstand pressures from seasoned political players like Chandrababu Naidu and Nitish Kumar? My response to all of them has been, “Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been telling his opponents for years that people do not know him well. He knows how to handle every situation. During the Emergency in 1975, he was an underground courageous youth activist of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), collaborating with leaders like socialist George Fernandes and Congress’ Ravindra Varma to conduct activities opposing the Emergency. Inspired by Loknayak Jayaprakash Narayan, he played an active role in the Navnirman Movement. As a journalist, I stayed in Gujarat for nearly a year then and later in Delhi, where Modi, as the chief organizing secretary of the BJP during the Atal-Advani era, significantly contributed to building the party’s relations with various parties and their leaders. Managing the politics of Haryana, Punjab, Jammu & Kashmir, Maharashtra, and Gujarat was not easy—dealing with political giants like George Fernandes, Bansi Lal, Om Prakash Chautala, Farooq Abdullah, Prakash Singh Badal, and Balasaheb Thackeray. Moreover, Modi’s experience includes working within the RSS and BJP organizations, expeditions in the Himalayan region, and challenging journeys to Tibet’s Kailash Mansarovar, travelling across the country by train, bus, scooter and car, maintaining contact with hundreds of people. Thus, managing leaders like Naidu and Nitish Kumar or other regional leaders should not be difficult for him.”

As Gujarat’s Chief Minister, Modi showed political acumen by managing internal BJP factions and groups and maintaining relations with other states’ chief ministers, rival institutions, corporate houses, labour unions, and media organizations. Due to his tendency to keep many activities and work largely private, very few people truly understand his personality. Leaders who work with great patience and confidentiality are rare not only in India but worldwide. This approach made historical decisions like demonetization and the abrogation of Article 370 in Kashmir possible. In the current context, reconnecting senior Telugu Desam Party leader Chandrababu Naidu with the BJP alliance before the Andhra and Lok Sabha elections is proving beneficial. This was also crucial for Naidu, who was part of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) during the Vajpayee government but left in 2002 demanding Modi’s removal as Gujarat’s Chief Minister. He rejoined the NDA in 2014 but left again under the pretext of demanding special status for Andhra. Out of power in Andhra and jailed by the Jagan Mohan Reddy government, Naidu’s return to Modi’s side is benefiting him. In the NDA parliamentary meeting after the Lok Sabha elections, Naidu’s speech in support and praise of Prime Minister Modi, expressing confidence in the socio-economic development of Andhra and the entire country, put an end to all speculation about breaking ties with Modi. Relations with regional leaders from Telangana, Karnataka, Kerala, and Tamil Nadu with Modi are growing stronger. Former Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda has consistently praised Prime Minister Modi’s leadership and work in Parliament over the past years.

Similarly, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar of Janata Dal (United) has had a mix of bitter and sweet relations over the past three decades. Nitish has repeatedly changed his stance and alliance, but his honesty has never been questioned. This is why even during political distances, Modi maintained his political connections through senior leaders like K.C. Tyagi, Ramnath Thakur, and Harivansh. Last year, after being deeply humiliated by getting caught in Lalu Yadav’s web, Nitish joined Modi’s NDA leadership before the Lok Sabha elections. The conferment of Bharat Ratna to Karpoori Thakur and the alliance of BJP and JD(U) benefited everyone in the Lok Sabha elections. The bitterness with Chirag Paswan and Jitan Ram Manjhi also ended due to Modi. All three have now vowed to support Modi’s government for their and Bihar’s interests. Nitish Kumar even expressed his deep emotions by trying to touch Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s feet in a meeting at the Parliament House, showing his commitment to their relationship.

Modi’s relations with key leaders from Maharashtra, Goa, Haryana, Punjab, Assam, Sikkim, and other northeastern states are continuously strengthening. The Assembly elections in Maharashtra, Haryana, and Jharkhand are due in a few months. Hence, a strength test for the BJP, regional parties, and their leaders is imminent. The Shiv Sena’s Shinde faction, Uddhav Thackeray, Raj Thackeray, and the Pawar family must decide whether to support or oppose Modi. It is Modi’s generosity that he first made Uddhav Thackeray and then Eknath Shinde the Chief Minister, despite BJP having more MLAs. Like Nitish, Thackeray left BJP’s side. Despite Shinde’s Shiv Sena and Ajit Pawar’s NCP, the BJP did not benefit in the Lok Sabha elections. Now all three need to strategize for the Assembly elections. The same situation applies to the Chautala family’s parties in Haryana. Caste-based divisions have once again trapped North Indian politics in a quagmire. Unfortunately, the national party Congress has also nurtured the same ailment. Nevertheless, by the end of 2024, one should hope for a decisive direction in the country’s politics.

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