When top BJP leaders troop into 11, Ashok Road on Friday evening for a meeting of the parliamentary board, their main task will be to convince divided UP leaders to not press for short cuts to power.
A majority of Central leaders including LK Advani and BJP chief Rajnath Singh are against any arrangement that may prove to be a trap in the long run -- when the party has to face the crucial Lok Sabha polls two years from now. UP accounts for 80 Lok Sabha seats – the largest state-wise representation in Parliament.
They are firm in their view that, if the exit polls prove to be true, the BJP should sit in the Opposition and let Mayawati-led BSP seek out its ally, probably the Congress, to form the government.
They hold that the BJP as an Opposition force will be better footed to reap the anti-incumbency mood that it says will develop on account of the UPA government at the centre and the BSP in power in Lucknow.
They are against any attempt by UP leaders like Kalyan Singh who do not mind some tacit arrangement with Mulayam Singh Yadav-led Samajwadi Party, which will be desperate to keep out its twin rivals – the BSP and the Congress out from the seat of power.
As a preparatory measure to devise a united strategy, Advani and Rajnath Singh drove to former Prime Minister AB Vajpayee’s residence Thursday evening to discuss the emerging scenario.
Some BJP leaders are worried that Vajpayee may be approached by Mulayam or Mayawati if the party get the requisite numbers, to agree to an arrangement.
Senior UP BJP leaders are clearly divided on the issue of post-poll alliance in the event of a fractured verdict in UP.
Though Rajnath Singh had made it clear the party would not forge post poll alliances to come to power, Kalyan Singh, who was projected as BJP’s Chief Minister candidate, and Lalji Tandon kept alive the option of forming the government open.
Kalyan Singh said, “the BJP will not hesitate to take support from any party. If any party extends unconditional support to the BJP due to its own political compulsions, the party will accept it.”
UP BJP president Keshari Nath Tripathi said “The party would prefer to sit in the opposition if it failed to get the majority. Whatever others are saying, are their personal views and not that of the party.”
He said, “It will be politically beneficial for the BJP to go in for fresh elections if there is a hung house and the difference between the BSP and BJP is in the range of 10 and 15 seats.”
But Tandon said, “we will try to find a middle way after consulting senior leaders.” Asked what is the meaning of the “middle way”, he said, “Obviously, to take support of other parties who are interested in forming a government.” Tandon, however, added that “the support should be unconditional and should be extended on their own initiative.”
If we have to form the Government then we have to take support but it would depend on the party high command whether it would agree on it or not.”
BJP Rajya Sabha member and former state president Kalraj Mishra ruled out the possibility of BJP taking the help of other parties to form the government. “we are not going to form the government if we do not get clear majority.”
Commenting on Kalyan Singh’s statement, Mishra said he had “simply indicated a possibility that the party high command could consider. The picture would be clear only after the election results are out.”
Mishra said “there is no question of the BJP begging for support or forming government with others support.”
Vinay Katiyar, another former UP BJP chief, said the party would not ask for neither extend support to anybody but could consider “if any party comes forward to help the BJP under its own political compulsions and without any prior conditions or rider.”
A Central BJP functionary, however, concluded that "Now, we are not in power at the Centre. Why should we be in a haste to strengthen anybody in Uttar Pradesh, where we have nothing at state."