PM Modi may go for an informal NDA committee

Modi's Mann Ki Baat

Rama Krishna Sangem

Prime Minister Narendra Modi may prefer an informal coordination committee for the ruling NDA, of which BJP is a part. BJP’s reduced numbers in the Lok Sabha have led the party’s floor managers in the House to look at mechanisms to ensure better coordination among the constituents of the ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA) during the days when Parliament remains in session.

The committee will comprise chief whips of its constituents, says a Business Standard story. However, no decision has been taken yet on whether the NDA will have a coordination committee, comprising the top leaders of at least its leading constituents that have representation in the Union council of ministers, such as the BJP, the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) and the Janata Dal (United).

Sources said the preferred format would be for the top BJP leadership in the government to reach out to the alliance leaders on a case-to-case basis. “It is too early to say if such a coordination committee is needed,” a source said, pointing out that such panels have either been ineffective in the past or led to avoidable friction, that too in the public eye.


Earlier cases

During the VP Singh-led National Front government, which lasted barely a year, and which the BJP and Left parties supported from outside, the Prime Minister met the top leaders of these parties — such as Atal Bihari Vajpayee, LK Advani, Harkishan Singh Surjeet and Indrajit Gupta — over a weekly dinner.

The 13-party United Front government of 1996-98 had a steering committee, with Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu as its convenor. While the Communist Party of India was part of the government, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) gave it outside support. It took key decisions, such as selecting the Prime Minister. In the subsequent Vajpayee-led NDA years, socialist leader George Fernandes was the convenor and crisis manager for the alliance.

The UPA1 saw the Congress and the Left Front coordination committee, with the latter later complaining of it having become dysfunctional when the government bypassed it to announce disinvestment of some of the public sector undertakings. During UPA2, the Sharad Pawar-led Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) attempted to revive the coordination committee but to little avail.

The NDA’s coordination committee during Modi 1.0 met a few times in the first couple of years until 2016. Shiromani Akali Dal leader Naresh Gujral and others complained then that the BJP did not follow the coalition dharma of consulting allies on key issues.

The NDA government in Maharashtra, called the Mahayuti, comprising the BJP, the Ajit Pawar-led NCP and CM Eknath Shinde-led Shiv Sena, currently has a coordination committee to discuss important issues, says the BS story. However, this type of coordination set up may not be liked by NDA partners who include dominant TDP and JDU.

Rama Krishna Sangem

Ramakrishna chief editor of excel India online magazine and website

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