11 parties with 91 MPs remain on fence as BJP, Congress sew up alliances

Three of the fence-sitters rule fairly large States — Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Odisha that together send 63 members to the Lok Sabha — where the Congress or other Opposition parties have been pushed to the margins

Updated - September 27, 2023 01:36 pm IST

Published - July 19, 2023 05:03 pm IST - New Delhi

The YSR Congress Party led by Y. S. Jagan?Mohan Reddy (right) and Biju Janata Dal’s Naveen Patnaik (right) have largely voted in favour of the BJP-led government in the Parliament. File

The YSR Congress Party led by Y. S. Jagan?Mohan Reddy (right) and Biju Janata Dal’s Naveen Patnaik (right) have largely voted in favour of the BJP-led government in the Parliament. File | Photo Credit: Biswaranjan Rout

While 65 parties have joined either the BJP or the Congress-led coalition, there are at least 11 more with a total 91 Members in Parliament who have chosen to stay neutral for now in the high-stakes general elections next year.

Three of the fence-sitters rule fairly large States — Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Odisha that together send 63 members to Lok Sabha — where the Congress or other Opposition parties have been pushed to the margins.

The Congress and 25 other Opposition parties on Wednesday unveiled the Indian National Developmental, Inclusive Alliance (INDIA) to take on the BJP-led NDA, which now has 39 parties.

The parties that are part of the neither grouping are: YSR Congress Party (YSRCP), Biju Janata Dal (BJD), Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS), Bahujan Samaj Party, All India Majlis-E-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM), Telugu Desam Party (TDP), Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF), Janata Dal (Secular), Rashtriya Loktantrik Party (RLP) and SAD (Mann).

The YSR Congress Party (YSRCP), which swept the elections in Andhra Pradesh in 2019, and the Biju Janata Dal (BJD), which has been ruling Odisha since 2000, have largely voted in favour of the BJP-led government in the Parliament.

The Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS), which has been ruling Telangana since it was carved out of Andhra Pradesh in 2014, had taken the lead in exploring the possibility of an Opposition alliance earlier this year, but is not part of the newly formed coalition.

Mayawati-led BSP, which has nine MPs, is also out of the Opposition alliance. The BSP, which ruled Uttar Pradesh four times, has announced it would go it alone in the Lok Sabha elections next year and the Assembly elections in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Telangana.

"We have to ensure that there is a 'helpless' (majboor) government and not a strong government at the Centre. Only this would ensure that the interests of the poor, dalits, adivasis, oppressed and minorities are upheld even if the BSP doesn't come to power," Ms. Mayawati said in a statement in New Delhi.

BJD supremo and Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik slammed the BJP for not giving adequate support to the State in Central schemes and has asked party MPs to raise the issue vociferously in the Monsoon Session of Parliament beginning on Thursday (July 20).

Asaduddin Owaisi-led AIMIM, which has also been left out of the Opposition alliance, said the party was being treated as a "political untouchables".

The AIMIM has a sizable presence in Hyderabad and surrounding areas in Telangana and is seeking to expand in States such as Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Karnataka.

AIMIM spokesperson Waris Pathan took potshots at the Opposition alliance contending that leaders such as Nitish Kumar, Uddhav Thackeray and Mehbooba Mufti, who had joined hands with the BJP earlier, were part of the gathering in Bengaluru, but the AIMIM, which was also working to defeat the BJP was being ignored.

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