BJP Reaches Out to Pat­naik, Jaya on Radar

The Economic Times - - Pure Politics - NISTULA HEBBAR

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.

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