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Partners & possibles in BJP’s target 272
Its eye on the prime minister’s chair for Narendra Modi, yet not certain of a majority of its own, the BJP has set about forging and looking for alliances, state by state, in its quest for 272 seats. A look at who are or could be with the BJP in nine of those states (counting Andhra Pradesh and Telangana as one), which together account for 255 of the 543 Lok Sabha seats:
Raj factor: Maharashtra
The BJP has forged a five-party alliance, Mahayuti, with the Shiv Sena, the RPI, the Swabhimani Paksha and the Rashtriya Samaj Paksha. Additionally, to prevent a split in the anti-UPA vote, the BJP is trying to convince Raj Thackeray not to field MNS candidates.
In 2009, the BJP and the Shiv Sena won 20 of 48 seats between them while the Swabhimani Paksha, then not in the alliance, won one. The Congress-NCP alliance has 25 seats in a state where it is in power; the Mahayuti is hoping for anti-incumbency accumulated over three terms.
Naidu an option: Andhra pradesh
N Chandrababu Naidu’s TDP made several overtures to the BJP in the run-up to the passage of the Telangana Bill. Since then, the TDP has gone quiet, apparently putting on the BJP the onus of taking the initiative for an alliance, or possibly preferring to wait until after the polls. With the TRS in Telangana rejecting a merger with Congress, the BJP senses a window of opportunity there too, but again only after the polls.
The BJP had won four of 42 seats in 1998 and seven in 1999, in alliance with the TDP. It has been routed since they parted ways in 2004.
Paswan won over: Bihar
The BJP-JD(U) alliance in 2009 won 32 of 40 seats, but the parting of ways made the BJP look vulnerable given the JD(U)’s base among the backward castes and Dalits — until the BJP forged alliances with Ram Vilas Paswan’s LJP and Upendra Kushwaha’s RLSP. The BJP will contest 30 seats, twice as many as in 2009, with the rest shared between the LJP (seven) and the RLSP (three).
Vaiko Done, DMK a teaser: Tamil Nadu
The BJP has sealed an alliance with Vaiko’s MDMK, is moving forward in talks with the PMK, and is waiting for a final word from the DMDK. The BJP is wary of initiating a dialogue on its own with the DMK given that the 2G scam is linked to the party, though DMK chief Karunanidhi has tempted the BJP by praising Narendra Modi.
In 1998, the BJP won three seats of 39 in alliance with the AIADMK, part of the most successful combination; in 1999 it bagged four in alliance with the DMK, the MDMK and the PMK.
BSY is back: karnataka
As the ruling party in the state, the BJP won 19 of 28 Lok Sabha seats in 2009 while the Congress bagged six and the JD(S) three. The exit of former chief minister B S Yedyyurappa cost the BJP in last year’s assembly elections, which returned the Congress to power. Now the BJP has got Yeddyurappa back; his fledgling KJP had bagged about 10 per cent of the votes in the assembly elections. The BJP state unit is rooting for merging in former minister B Sreeramulu’s BSR Congress, too; it got three per cent of the votes in the assembly elections.
Smaller parties targeted: orissa
The BJP won seven of 21 seats in 1998 and nine in 1999, contesting in alliance with the BJD both times. However, they parted ways ahead of the 2009 and the BJP now has no seat in the state. With Naveen Patnaik having avoided an alliance since, the party is exploring a grand alliance with Soumya Ranjan Patnaik’s Aam Orissa party, Braja Kishore Tripathy’s Samata Kranti Party and Kharavela Swain’s Utkal Bharat Party. Talks with Pyari Mohan Mohapatra’s party have hit a roadblock with the state unit not keen on an alliance.
Divide over AGP: ASSAM
The AGP had contested in 2009 in alliance with the BJP, which won four of 14 seats. However, they parted ways during the assembly elections of 2011, leading to a miserable performance by both parties. The AGP has since shown an interest in a pre-poll alliance with the BJP. The BJP’s state unit is, however, divided. The BJP central leadership too is unsure how useful an ally the faction-ridden AGP will be; it is not in the mood to concede too many seats. The onus is on the AGP to forge an alliance with its share reduced since 2009.
Still with Akalis: Punjab
Deal with hjc: Haryana
The BJP has forged an alliance with the Haryana Janhit Congress led by Kuldeep Bishnoi, with the latter to contest two of 10 seats. O P Chuatala’s INLD, too, has been eyeing an understanding with the BJP. However, the conviction of Chautala and his struggle to get relief from court have come in the way of an alliance, with the HJC against one in any case.