Both the BJP and Congress understand that coalitions and alliances are not just about numbers, but have symbolic value.
Opposition parties that boycotted the May 28, 2023 inauguration of the new Parliament building will meet in Patna on June 23 to discuss unity for the 2024 Lok Sabha polls.
It is a challenging task, as evident from the Trinamool Congress poaching the Congress's lone Bengal legislator Bayron Biswas on May 29, bringing back the latter to zero seats in the 294 member Bengal assembly.
If 21 Opposition parties boycotted the May 28 ceremony, the support the Bharatiya Janata Party received from 13 affiliates of the much diminished National Democratic Alliance, along with from half a dozen not aligned to either camp, who attended the function, reawakened it to the importance of allies.
Addressing a meeting of BJP chief ministers and deputy CMs on May 28 evening, Narendra D Modi asked them to assuage allies and respect regional aspirations.
Modi asked the party to celebrate 25 years of the NDA's inception, stressing its spectacular success as no alliance has endured for a quarter of a century.
The BJP would need to nurse its alliances in Maharashtra, Haryana, Bihar, the north eastern states and the south and also keep channels open with parties equidistant from both camps, such as the Biju Janata Dal.
However, the development in Bengal and the Congress meeting in Delhi to decide its response to the Aam Aadmi Party's appeal to oppose the Delhi services ordinance issue laid bare the contradictions in the Opposition camp.
Congress leaders from Punjab and Delhi asked the party leadership not to support the AAP, describing it as the BJP's 'B team' that has hurt the Congress in Delhi, Punjab and other states.
In Bengal, Sagardighi MLA Bayron Biswas, elected in a by-poll three months AGO, joined the TMC in the presence of party national General Secretary Abhishek Banerjee.
Biswas was the joint Congress-Left Front candidate and defeated the Trinamool candidate by almost 23,000 votes, a seat that the Trinamool had held since 2011, leading their leaders to talk about the 'Sagardighi model', hoping minorities would turn away from the TMC.
'We don't mind supporting the Congress, but that doesn't mean that in places where the TMC is strong, the Congress fights us to strengthen the BJP,' Abhishek Banerjee said after Biswas joined his party, slamming Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury.
Abhishek echoed not just her aunt, Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee's view on the issue, but also the Samajwadi Party's Akhilesh Yadav.
Both skipped attending the oath-taking ceremony of the Congress ministry in Bengaluru on May 20.
Yadav argued that Congress should let his party fight the BJP in Uttar Pradesh.
However, the Rashtriya Lok Dal's Jayant Chowdhury -- an SP ally in UP -- attended the swearing-in.
According to sources, the RLD is keen to ally with the Congress in western UP as it believes the Congress would help it get minority votes.
Meanwhile, some former friends-turned-rivals, including the Telugu Desam Party and Shiromani Akali Dal, are keen to return to the NDA fold.
In his Mann ki Baat address last month, Modi paid homage to TDP founder N T Rama Rao on his 100th birth anniversary.
But the BJP has kept its equation with YSR Congress Party at an even keel.
Last month, the Union government released Rs 10,461 crore (Rs 104.61 billion) of pending bifurcation dues from 2014, which a YSRCP spokesperson attributed to his party's 'friendly attitude with Delhi'.
The Andhra CM attended Parliament's inauguration.
The K Chandrasekhar Rao-led Bharat Rashtra Samithi, which boycotted the event, said it cannot go with the Congress-led Opposition.
According to a senior BJP leader, the Telangana assembly election in December would be "difficult" for his party, indicating the fight was between the BRS and the Congress.
As a CSDS-Lokniti survey published on May 29 nrevealed, Opposition parties, such as the SP and TMC, may be justified in worrying about the Congress.
According to the survey, the Congress and Rahul Gandhi's acceptance has increased after the Bharat Jodo Yatra.
The survey found that compared to 2014 and 2019, there is a decent increase in the proportion of respondents willing to vote for the Congress.
But this spike is primarily at the cost of regional parties, rather than the BJP.
The BJP and the Congress understand that coalitions and alliances are not just about numbers but have symbolic value.
It would be interesting to watch how they accommodate the electoral interests of their smaller allies.
Feature Presentation: Aslam Hunani/Rediff.com