Lal Krishna Advani’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) founded the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) with 25-plus partners in 1998. That launched India’s most successful era of coalition politics. Since then, three coalitions, without a core party with a majority, lasted full terms.
By the fall of 2020 now, Narendra Modi and Amit Shah’s BJP has finished the NDA and written new rules and equations in national politics. Advani’s NDA is over, used and discarded. With 2 key exits in form of Shiv Sena and Akali Dal, NDA is BJP and BJP is NDA.
Now, Nitish is the only Major NDA partner but he has nobody in the Union cabinet, and is diminishing by the day in Bihar. Even in the likely event of another term as chief minister of Bihar, it will be his last. With no successor in his family or party, the BJP will wait until he fully fades and then move in.
You might wish to compare this with the Ashwamedha Yagna of our Vedic tradition. Once your sovereignty is established with the display of an unstoppable horse across the nation, what do you do? Sacrifice that blessed horse. The NDA was that sacrificial horse.
It is still called an NDA government but, at this point, its 53-member strong Union council of ministers has only one coalition partner. Don’t be embarrassed if you can’t recall who it is. I am also saving you the trouble of googling. It is Ramdas Athawale, of the Republican Party of India (RPI) faction named after himself, of course. He’s the solitary reminder of this being an NDA coalition government, a little bit like the Muslim driver of Advani’s ‘rath’ proving his secular commitment during his 1990 yatra.
Athawale reminds us of his presence every once in a while by saying something guaranteed to go viral. In the ministry, however, he is put in the place he belongs. His party has a small Dalit vote base in Maharashtra. So he is a Minister of State for Social Justice and Empowerment. It’s an aside, but the sole Muslim in this cabinet also holds the portfolio of Minority Affairs.
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