The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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BJP backdoor favour for Jaya

New Delhi, Jan. 30: If the BJP has pulled out of the bypoll fray in Tamil Nadu, it is likely to do just the reverse in Uttar Pradesh.

The party has decided against contesting the bypoll to the Sattankulam Assembly seat in Tamil Nadu late next month.

BJP general-secretary and spokesman Pramod Mahajan, releasing the first list of candidates for the Himachal Pradesh and Northeast polls, said “the last time the BJP fought this (Sattankulam) seat as part of a larger NDA coalition”.

“Since NDA partners have decided not to fight (this time), the BJP will also neither (fight) nor support any party. The decision was taken to keep NDA unity intact,” he said.

The DMK, the BJP’s principal Tamil Nadu ally, decided to boycott the Sattankulam bypoll alleging irregularities in the voters’ list. With MDMK leader Vaiko in jail, Mahajan said his party was in no mood to jump into the fray. This makes the bypoll a straight fight between the ADMK and the Congress.

Sources in the Tamil Nadu BJP, despite the official line, said they would back the ADMK largely because of party chief and chief minister Jayalalithaa’s pro-Hindutva line.

“Jayalalithaa’s pro-Hindu image will naturally cause BJP votes to gravitate towards her. Our local unit has already said they will support her,” the sources said.

According to sources at the national level, “it doesn't matter if the ADMK wins because if we contest, not only will we lose our deposit but we will also ensure the Congress’ victory. That’s something we should not allow.”

In the north, the BJP’s cherished alliance with the Bahujan Samaj Party in Uttar Pradesh threatened to come unstuck as both were likely to contest the bypolls to the Gauriganj and Haidergarh Assembly seats.

According to Mahajan, the BSP has put up a candidate in Gauriganj, which was a Congress seat before its MLA died. Gauriganj is also part of Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s Amethi constituency.

Mahajan’s rationale for both the BJP and the BSP staking claim is the last election. The BJP had come second at Gauriganj then and the BSP third, with a gap of barely 200 votes.

Mahajan dismissed the suggestion that his party’s Uttar Pradesh alliance had run into rough weather because of a lack of understanding on the bypolls.

“We fought the last bypolls, the Rajya Sabha and the vice-presidential elections jointly. Sometimes aberrations occur in a coalition.”

Sources said there was pressure from Sanjay Singh and his wife Amita, a minister in the Uttar Pradesh government, not to yield Gauriganj to the BSP.

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