Amit shah and JP nadda
BJP president JP Nadda and Union Home Minister Amit Shah in a file photo. Image: Twitter/ANI

BJP seeks to rebuild NDA with eye on 2024 polls, Rajya Sabha numbers

An expanded NDA would also help BJP counter the narrative being built around a united Opposition

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Ahead of next year’s parliamentary battle, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is planning to expand the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) which has suffered fractures since the last general elections.

With less than 10 months left for the 2024 elections, the upcoming Monsoon Session of Parliament is likely to become a battleground between the Union government and opposition parties.There will be flexing of muscles on both sides over the Centre’s ordinance on control over administrative services in Delhi.

The BJP leadership knows it has only 93 members on its own in the Rajya Sabha and it is reaching out to like-minded parties that can not only help it in Parliament but also come together during the national polls.

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“Most BJP leaders are keen to have more alliance partners because it will help increase our national footprint and also lead to the growth of the party and its cadre in states where the BJP is a marginal player,” said a senior party leader who is aware of the developments. “The BJP leadership is keen to start a massive expansion of NDA in the coming days and it will be visible in Parliament and in states,” he added.

Embracing TDP

The first move in this direction was made by the BJP a few days ago when Home Minister Amit Shah and BJP president JP Nadda met former Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu, the president of the Telugu Desam Party (TDP).

It is expected that the leaders of the BJP and TDP may hold several more meetings in the days to come to finalise plans for an alliance for the national elections and see if a similar alliance will be feasible for assembly polls.

“The TDP chief is very keen to have an alliance with the BJP for both the Andhra Pradesh elections in May 2024 and national elections. TDP has suffered politically and electorally after walking out of the NDA before the 2019 general elections. Our leaders feel the time has come to return to NDA,” a senior TDP leader told The Federal.

A similar bonhomie seems to be building between the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and the BJP to form an alliance for the general elections. Senior leaders of the BJP admit that SAD was a “natural ally” in Punjab, and it continues to support the BJP on all crucial Bills and debates in Parliament even though the regional party walked out of the NDA in September 2020.

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“The SAD is basically a party of farmers, and we left the NDA on the issue of farmers.
BJP has to understand that it has to respect the wishes of its alliance partners. If there are assurances that alliance partners will be respected and their views will be taken into consideration, then there is no harm in an alliance with the BJP,” said a SAD leader and a former Rajya Sabha member.

BJP and allies

Interestingly, this is not the first time that old NDA partners have come together to help the BJP in its hour of need even though there is no formal alliance between the two sides.

The inauguration of the new Parliament building was another event when political parties either in alliance with or friendly towards the ruling BJP were present for the official ceremony. These included the official Shiv Sena, Republican Party of India (Athawale), AIADMK, Lok JanShakti Party, the National People’s Party, Asom Gana Parishad and Naga Peoples Front.

During the election of President Droupadi Murmu last July, both the SAD and TDP stood with the BJP.

“If BJP has to choose between the TDP and YSRCP, then most leaders will be keen to have an alliance with the TDP. The simple reason is that we have been in alliance in the past, and it was a good working relationship. The party is aware that while YSRCP helps BJP in Parliament, it may not be keen to formally join the NDA or give the BJP space to contest elections in Andhra Pradesh,” the BJP leader quoted earlier said.

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The alliance talks between the TDP and BJP are at a crucial juncture because they are happening at a time when the ruling party does not want to upset Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy just yet.

The problem the BJP is facing in choosing between TDP and YSRCP is that Jagan Mohan Reddy has nine members in the Rajya Sabha whereas TDP only has one.


Since the BJP does not have a majority on its own in the Rajya Sabha, it is dependent on the support of like-minded parties such as the YSRCP and Biju Janata Dal (BJD) as both have nine members each in the Rajya Sabha.

The support of these two political parties is important for the party, and senior BJP leaders do not want to annoy these regional leaders by joining hands with their rivals.

“Leaders of the YSRCP were among the political parties who were present during the inauguration ceremony of the new Parliament building. They have helped the BJP several times during the passage of crucial Bills. However, the decision to meet TDP leaders can also be seen as a move to build pressure on YRSCP to do more,” the BJP leader added.

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To further explain the arithmetic in the Rajya Sabha, BJP has the 93 MPs of its own and has support of 23 more MPs from smaller parties, independents and nominated members. Even though the NDA has a substantial strength of 116 MPs in the Rajya Sabha, this number is still short of the halfway mark in the Upper House.

Rajya Sabha magic

Of the total 238 MPs in the Rajya Sabha, the BJP needs the support of at least 120 MPs to reach the halfway mark. To ensure this number, BJP is dependent on the support of the 18 Parliamentarians of the BJD and YSRCP.

Political analysts believe the decision of the BJP to expand the NDA will help the Union government counter the narrative that is being built around the possibility of opposition parties uniting against the BJP.

“This is a good move and will help strengthen the BJP politically and also create the perception that the BJP too has alliance partners. The development will help BJP the counter the perception that all political parties are uniting against it,” said Badri Narayan, author and director at the GB Pant Social Science Institute, Allahabad.

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