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BJP eyes Naveen & Naidu

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By SANJAY K. JHA in Delhi
  • Published 13.05.09
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Patnaik , Naidu

New Delhi, May 13: The BJP is waiting eagerly not only for the Lok Sabha results but also for the outcomes of the Orissa and Andhra Pradesh Assembly polls.

The party feels its alliance needs a lead of at least 20-25 seats over the UPA to come into the reckoning for government formation. And it believes that the “right” results in the two Assembly polls could help by handing it bargaining chips with Naveen Patnaik and Chandrababu Naidu.

BJP leaders are confident that the NDA would emerge the largest grouping but fear that a narrow deficit for the UPA could still leave the Congress in control of the levers of government formation.

To the BJP, the Congress’s two big advantages are the presence of a “pliant” President in Rashtrapati Bhavan and the Left’s anxiety to keep the BJP away from power.

So, BJP strategists are hoping that Patnaik would fall short of majority in Orissa, opening the door to a possible trade-off of support in Bhubaneswar and Delhi. The party has convinced itself that Patnaik would prefer the BJP to the Congress.

The BJP also believes that if Naidu needs the support of the Telengana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) in Andhra, he would become vulnerable to the NDA’s pressures. The TRS, which contested the state elections as a Telugu Desam ally, has switched over to the NDA.

The BJP, however, knows it would be difficult to tempt the Telugu Desam or the Biju Janata Dal if they gain majority in their states on their own, or are knocked out of the reckoning altogether. Party leaders realise that Patnaik and Naidu would return to the NDA only under compulsion, not out of choice.

The BJP believes that Jayalalithaa’s first preference would be the Congress since it can help her in Tamil Nadu by bringing the DMK government down. In Uttar Pradesh, the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party would be up for grabs but the BJP thinks they would cancel each other out by winning roughly equal seats.

The Samajwadis have hinted at going with the UPA while Mayavati has not revealed her mind.

Some BJP leaders think the Left would not provide outside support to the UPA this time, but they doubt if the communists would vote against a “secular” government on a trust motion.

BJP leaders claim that the Trinamul Congress will join the NDA if a Congress-led government accepts Left support. But they are alive to the possibility of a situation where Trinamul stays part of a UPA government that the Left declines to vote out despite sitting in the Opposition.