New Delhi: The decision of key regional parties to forge state-specific alliances, as opposed to a grand-alliance for the upcoming general elections is likely to force the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) to evolve multiple strategies to tackle the opposition in different states.

Not only does this help the opposition consolidate its votes, but it will also help in managing the inherent contradictions among these parties at the national level, something that would inhibit opposition unity. Having identified the BJP as the primary rival, these regional parties are looking to complement their inherent electoral bases.

For instance, with the Samajwadi Party (SP) and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) excluding the Congress from their alliance in Uttar Pradesh, the contest will become three-cornered as opposed to what prevailed in 2014 when most contests were four-cornered. It is after a gap of nearly 25 years that the BJP will take on the SP-BSP in an alliance.

There are expectations that the Ajit Singh-led Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) is likely to join the SP-BSP alliance to target Jat voters of western Uttar Pradesh where the BJP had won most of the seats both in the 2014 general elections and the 2017 assembly polls.

In Bihar, the BJP-led NDA is up against the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), the Rashtriya Lok Samata Party (RLSP), the Congress and former Bihar chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi.

“If all opposition parties had come together against the BJP, it would have helped the BJP because then it would have been a direct contest between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Congress-led opposition. However, in the absence of such a scenario, the BJP will have to win nearly 50% votes in every constituency to beat multiple challengers," said a senior BJP leader based in Lucknow.

The electoral outcome in UP and Bihar would be key to the BJP replicating its audacious victory in the 16th general election. Together, the two states send 120 MPs to the Lok Sabha—in 2014, BJP had won 104 seats. “The biggest strength and problem for the BJP is that the party along with NDA is in power in 16 states. With the coming together of regional parties, a national narrative could be difficult and local factors and performances of state governments could play a role. The anti-incumbency of state governments could play a role in national politics," the BJP leader said.

Several key regional leaders and chief ministers are also trying to bring opposition parties on board, particularly Telugu Desam Party chief N. Chandrababu Naidu and Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee. On Saturday, Banerjee is hosting a rally that is likely to be attended by all key opposition parties other than the Left Front.

Meanwhile, in Maharashtra, the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) are close to finalising their seat-sharing formula though there is uncertainty over how many other anti-BJP parties join this alliance. They are in talks with the Bharipa Bahujan Mahasangh but no effort has so far been made to rope in the SP and BSP.

A similar clash is expected in Jharkhand where the BJP will have to face the Congress and the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha along with smaller regional parties.

Abhiram Ghadyalpatil in Mumbai contributed to this story.