The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Coalition cool to poll tieups

New Delhi, Sept. 26: The BJP and its northern allies do not appear keen on electoral tieups in the poll-bound states of Rajasthan, Delhi, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Mizoram.

Although the allies — the Samata Party, the Janata Dal (United) and the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) — are not major factors in any of these states, they have planned to battle the November-end elections alone.

The JD (U), led by Union minister for food, public distribution and civil supplies Sharad Yadav, is concentrating on Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, where it plans to contest 25 seats each on its own. It would also put up candidates in Delhi and Chhattisgarh for a symbolic fight.

Asked about an electoral alliance with the BJP, JD (U) spokesperson K.C. Tyagi said the party will battle it alone. “The BJP has not responded to our overtures. We are not going to beg. We will fight on our strength.”

Tyagi added that the party has already identified 15 constituencies in Rajasthan and 20 in Madhya Pradesh.

With no signs of a National Democratic Alliance-type tieup in these states, the parties are likely to end up fighting each other and the Congress.

The Jat-dominated INLD, led by Haryana chief minister Om Prakash Chautala, will contest only in Delhi and Rajasthan. While Chautala has launched a campaign in both these states, the party is yet to decide on the number of seats to contest.

The INLD’s state units want the party to contest all 70 seats in Delhi and 200 in Rajasthan.

Senior party leader and the Haryana chief minister’s son, Ajay Chautala, said: “The INLD will not have any alliance with the BJP.”

In the 1998 elections, the party contested three seats in alliance with the BJP in Delhi, but drew a blank.

Although the BJP central leadership is not opposed to a tieup with the INLD — which has pockets of influence among the Jats in Rajasthan, Delhi and western Uttar Pradesh — Ajay Chautala is miffed with senior BJP leader and Union labour minister Sahib Singh Verma, a Jat himself, who, INLD sources claimed, sabotaged their poll prospects in 1998.

The Samata is planning to set up candidates in all the five states and efforts are on to have an alliance with the INLD in Delhi and Rajasthan and with the Nationalist Congress Party in Mizoram, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh.

In the February 2002 elections in Uttar Pradesh, the INLD had put up 110 candidates, much to the annoyance of the BJP and Ajit Singh’s Rashtriya Lok Dal, another Jat-dominated party.

While the INLD drew a blank, Singh bagged 14 seats and later joined the NDA and the Mayavati-led government in Lucknow.

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