BJP Reaches Out to Patnaik, Jaya on Radar
After a long and bitterly fought election, it is time for the BJP to focus on winningmorealliesshouldthemagic figureof 272LokSabhaseatseludethe coalition it leads, even as there is an unmistakable air of excitement within the party’s ranks over the exit polls that herald its return to power at the Centre after a 10-year hiatus.
The party has already opened talks with its former partner, Naveen Patnaik-led BJD, and the contours of a post-poll arrangement are being discussed, a senior BJP leader involved in the negotiations said.
“Naveen Patnaik has not been negative to our feelers. He has only sent word that someone senior like Arun Jaitleyshouldbedeputedtorepresent BJP in the talks,” said the leader. BJP could offer BJD two Cabinet posts and one of a minister of state, muchliketheCongress’arrangement with the Nationalist Congress Party, the leader said, hastening to add that such bargaining would depend entirely on the final results. Patnaik has been vacationing in Delhi in the interregnum between polls in his home state and the declaration of results on May 16. Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaaisalsoapossibleally,BJP leaders said, adding talks with her would be held directly by the party’s PM candidate Narendra Modi, who enjoysagoodrapportwithher.“Itwas only in the last phase of the Tamil Nadu polls that the two attacked each other and compared to the normal level of rhetoric, the words used were quite mild,” a BJP leader said. On Monday, former Lok Sabha speaker PA Sangma held a meeting with Modi, signalling that the electoral battle had moved beyond the rhetoricof thecampaigntothepracticalities of government formation. Sangma had quit the Congress in revolt against party president Sonia Gandhi’s foreign origin issue and was a co-founder of the NCP, but he left the NCPaswellwhenthe party chief Sharad Pawar opposed his Presidential bid.
ModiandBJPpresident Rajnath Singh have separately met RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat to discuss the poll trackers employed by the Sangh parivar and to fine-tune the party strategy, a top RSS member said. “There have been divergent as- sessments, ranging between 185 and 297 seats, in which 50 seats are said to be too close to call,” said the RSS member. “The meetings were about how to go about the things.”
BJP is hoping to beat its 1999 tally of 182 seats, party leaders involved in the campaigning said. “Governments now are not made on 272, but at 180; that number will get you allies,” said a senior strategist in the party. “The Congress could form the government even with 146 seats since it does not face the same problems as BJP in attracting allies,” he conceded, “For us, 180 and above, at least 40 seats more than Congress, is important for government formation.”
The party’s all-out efforts in Uttar Pradesh,thecountry’smostpopulous state, which accounts for 80 seats, stemmed from this realisation, the BJP strategist added.