New Delhi, Apr 24 : For the first time in the history of independent India, the ruling BJP is contesting the highest number of 437 Lok Sabha seats in the 17th general elections currently underway. With just four days left for filing of nominations for the seventh phase of the Lok Sabha elections, the BJP has so far fielded candidates from 437 seats.
This is a quantum jump for the BJP which fielded 428 candidates in 2014, 433 candidates in 2009, 364 in 2004 and 339 seats in the 1999 polls.
Filing of nominations for the seventh and final phase ends on April 29. The 2014 general election results, which returned 282 BJP MPs to the 543-member Lok Sabha, proved a shot in the arm for the BJP as did the accompanying decimation of the Congress which was reduced to 44 seats. Since 1984, when the party won only two seats, the BJP has made impressive gains through a well-calculated strategy of aggressively pursuing opportunities to contest more and more polls, in alliance with smaller regional parties and gain a foothold in the region. Its pan-Indian presence has been at the expense of the shrinking Congress role across the country.
In contrast to the BJP fielding 437 candidates in the Lok Sabha elections, the Congress, once predominant, has nominated 423 candidates across the country and entered into electoral understanding with smaller, regional players, showing its willingness to play second fiddle in the arrangement. While in Bihar, the party is part of a 'mahagathbandhan' comprising the RJD, Jitan Ram Manjhi's HAM party, the Vikassheel Insan Party of Mukesh Saini and the Rashtriya Lok Samata Party of Upendra Khushwaha, in Maharashtra, it is fighting the Lok Sabha polls in alliance with the NCP.
In Tamil Nadu, the Congress is fighting polls in alliance with the DMK while in Karnataka, it is contesting polls in alliance with the Janata Dal (Secular). In Uttar Pradesh, while the Congress has decided to go it alone on all the 80 Lok Sabha seats in the state, it has entered into an alliance with the Apna Dal (Krishna Patel faction) on a few seats. It has also decided not to field its candidates from the seats where SP chief Akhilesh Yadav and BSP chief Mayawati are contesting.
The BJP too has forged alliances in various states like Bihar, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and North Eastern states. While in Bihar, it is fighting polls in alliance with the Janata Dal (United), in Mahasrashtra, it is fighting elections in alliance with the Shiv Sena. In Tamil Nadu, it has reached an alliance with the AIADMK while in Uttar Pradesh, it is fighting polls in alliance with the Apna Dal and in Punjab, it is fighting polls in alliance with the Shoramani Akali Dal. Political observers say the BJP contesting in more number of seats compared to the Congress is an indication that the saffron party is the rising sun on the Indian political horizon and the Congress has to willy-nilly occupy the backseat until it can conclusively reverse this trend. (UNI)