New Delhi: General elections before the end of the year are decisively indicated after the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam’s withdrawal from the United Progress Alliance government at the Centre and the Central Bureau of Investigation’s vindictive raid on the two Karunanidhi brothers. That such history could repeat with other allies of the government has been forcefully pointed out by Mulayam Singh Yadav’s son and the Samajwadi Party’s chief minister in Uttar Pradesh, Akhilesh Yadav. What should have also disconcerted the allies is the Congress party’s success in splitting the two Karunanidhi brothers, Stalin and Alagiri, and a similar fate could visit the others should they continue in the current alliance or join a future one.

The electoral verdict for the Congress in the general election will depend on the severity of the split with its alliance partners. There is one school of thinking that the Congress is reconciled to a low Lok Sabha tally of one hundred seats or less but would exercise every skullduggery to gain power again. The problem with this theory is that President Pranab Mukherjee is unlikely to go out of the way to swear in a Congress-led or Congress-backed government unless, impossibly, the party manages the single largest number of seats on its own. Also, much as the Congress may play the communal card to scare and draw potential allies of the Bharatiya Janata Party towards its fold once again, it may not be successful. Once bitten, the Congress’ allies are twice shy, and if the Bharatiya Janata Party becomes the number one party in the Lok Sabha, a third term for the United Progressive Alliance is ruled out.

How good the Bharatiya Janata Party does is dependent on how it approaches the polls and its post-election calculations. It is certain that Narendra Modi will not be declared the prime-minister candidate partly because of National Democratic Alliance considerations and since the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangha wants to avoid a Modi overkill. Such aides as he has are unhappy with his “excessive” television and internet exposure and want his mystique to continue till he is chosen prime minister by his party. That, in turn, depends on whether the Bharatiya Janata Party goes for the maximum contest in which seat-sharing with allies is minimal and perhaps adversarial in places or it bows to accommodate the interests of the National Democratic Alliance to a greater or the farthest degree.

The second situation would suit Lal Krishna Advani and Sushma Swaraj because either of them stands a better chance of being prime minister if the allies are elected in dominant numbers to dictate the PM choice to the Bharatiya Janata Party. The Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangha and the cadres of the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Sangha Parivar would resent this denouement. They would prefer that the Bharatiya Janata Party contests in the maximum number of seats so that it becomes a party decision to choose the prime minister, in which case, Narendra Modi is the clear winner.

Currently, the situation of Narendra Modi vis-a-vis the party is that both sides wish to use the other’s strength, but Modi’s redeeming quality is that he is less keen on the prime ministership than in the opportunity that position brings to make paradigm changes in the Indian political economic system. But as prime minister, he will not genuflect before allies, and thus the people have to vote massively in his name for the Bharatiya Janata Party, and he has left that decision to the electorate.

So, after the fall of the United Progressive Alliance government, which is imminent, the attention will focus on how the Bharatiya Janata Party approaches the polls. It has a historic opportunity to arrest India’s precipitate slide under Sonia Gandhi and Manmohan Singh by making maximum investments in the coming elections. It should know what to do for that.