After its worst election losses since coming to power in 2014, the ruling BJP has received a sharp message from one of its oldest allies. Naresh Gujral, a leader of the Akali Dal, has said that the BJP has to "quickly settle" with allies or it will be in big trouble in the 2019 general election.
"I don't see any single political party getting over 200 seats in the next election. So whoever makes the right pre-poll coalition is going to be the winner," Naresh Gujral said during a discussion on NDTV.
"So it's very important that BJP quickly settles with existing allies especially the Shiv Sena, deal with them with generosity and at the same time reach out to parties who were a part of the (Atal Bihari) Vajpayee rainbow coalition at one stage, so that you have a strong pre-poll coalition in place before 2019," he said.
In the state polls dubbed the semi-final before the national election, the BJP lost Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh and performed poorly in Telangana and Mizoram.
The Akali Dal leader said the ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA) was in for "big trouble" if it failed to see the reality.
"The minorities want security. If you don't provide them security, they will vote en masse with the Congress and allies. Unless we recognize factors like economic factors and especially rural distress, we are in for trouble," he said.
Asked whether he had flagged his concerns to the BJP leadership, especially Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Amit Shah, Mr Gujral voiced a complaint.
"It's early days. We will bring it up. My party has been talking about rural distress and agrarian crisis for a long time, unfortunately we were not being heard on the issue," he said.
Another long-time BJP ally, the Shiv Sena, has been more acrid in its critique after the BJP's poll setbacks. Reports quote Sena leaders as saying they want 50 per cent in any seat sharing deal for Maharashtra in the 2019 polls.
Sena leader Uddhav Thackeray said voters had to be praised for "rejecting those they did not want". The two parties contested the 2014 Maharashtra polls separately but later joined hands to form government.