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BJP banks on coalition dharma

New Delhi, Aug. 21: “Coalition dharma”, a phrase coined by L.K. Advani years ago, has been revived as the BJP’s mantra.

Months after it celebrated the joys of getting an absolute majority in the Lok Sabha, the reality of keeping its allies on its side in the Assembly elections has hit the party.

The BJP has decided that it will have to strike quid pro quo arrangements with the Haryana Janhit Congress (HJC) in poll-bound Haryana and the Shiv Sena in Maharashtra as it was not “politically feasible” to depend only on the “Narendra Modi wave”.

A Maharashtra leader explained why: “The next set of Assembly polls will happen under the influence of the NDA victory. The atmosphere is positive. But the Lok Sabha polls were fought on a macro canvas, this time micro-level issues will come into play. Therefore, we have to factor in all those issues, identify our strengths and weaknesses, consolidate our strengths and plug in the flaws.”

The BJP expects Maharashtra and Haryana to go the polls around mid-October — in the interregnum between the festivals of Dusshera and Diwali — followed by Jharkhand, and Jammu and Kashmir in November. The broad contours of its strategies for Maharashtra and Haryana are:

The alliances with the HJC and the Sena will stay intact but the formulas previously agreed upon will get a “re-look” because the BJP had outpaced both its partners by “leaps and bounds” in the parliamentary polls, claimed a source;

The BJP expects to contest a bulk of the seats in these states;

No chief ministerial candidate, from the BJP or its allies, will be declared;

Modi’s persona will be foregrounded over those of the others, he will be the “star” canvasser;

The polls will be fought on the plank of “anti-incumbency” the BJP thinks prevails against the Congress-NCP and Congress governments in Maharashtra and Haryana; and

“Development” and “governance” will override subjects like religion and caste in the poll discourse.