The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Allies pushed closer to wall

New Delhi, Dec. 15: The BJP’s near-sweep in Gujarat is likely to further marginalise its partners in the National Democratic Alliance, who had kept away from the party’s Hindutva-centred election campaign.

The BJP has of late been critical of the allies’ “cantankerous” attitude. Some of them, like the Janata Dal (United), the Samata Party, the Trinamul Congress and the Telugu Desam, had supported the Opposition on farmers’ problems and disinvestment.

But after winning over the BSP and the ADMK, the BJP was dismissive of the allies and told them in as many words that they could either shut up or get out.

In the ongoing winter session, the allies were much quieter than in earlier sessions. After the Gujarat results, they are in an even more difficult situation.

Reading the writing on the wall, some have welcomed the BJP’s victory and refuted suggestions of any “polarisation” of votes. They said it was a verdict against the Congress.

Samata leader Nitish Kumar said “the people of Gujarat were aggrieved with the kind of image painted outside the state and hence reacted in this way”. The railway minister did not mention that his party had also contested the election, putting up candidates against both the BJP and the Congress.

Claiming that there was no polarisation of votes between Hindus and Muslims, he said in Raipur that “people are secular and they do not like any fundamentalists”.

In a guarded reaction, Andhra Pradesh chief minister N. Chandrababu Naidu said the people’s verdict was final in a parliamentary democracy. He expressed happiness over the peaceful conduct of elections and said he hoped all sections would now pay greater attention to peace, harmony and development.

Describing it as a “befitting reply by rejecting the Congress” and attributing the BJP’s victory to the development policies pursued by the government, Shiromani Akali Dal general secretary Kanwaljit Singh said the victory had nothing to with Godhra.

ADMK leader Jayalalithaa congratulated Narendra Modi and expressed happiness over his “splendid” victory “despite the difficulties and obstacles created by the extremely hostile media and a hostile Election Commission of India”.

“The will of the people of Gujarat had prevailed,” she told Modi over phone.

But former ally and Lok Jan Shakti leader Ram Vilas Paswan accused the BJP of playing the “communal card” and regretted that it was getting support on such a dangerous issue.

“The BJP had no issue except hard communalism and hard Hinduvta. They strongly played this and also got support from the Centre, which we have earlier said,” he said. “If the people of Gujarat want a communal government, then it is up to them. This trend is bad,” he added.

Paswan said he hoped “this communal politics” would not influence polls outside Gujarat.

RJD chief Laloo Prasad Yadav described the verdict as “unfortunate” but said it would not have any impact on states going to polls next year. “It is unfortunate for the country. The BJP has won the elections after engineering riots and fomenting communal passion,” he said.

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