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HindustanTimes Sun,31 Aug 2014

Expecting NDA victory, allies begin to emerge

HT Correspondents, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, May 14, 2014
First Published: 21:13 IST(14/5/2014) | Last Updated: 02:17 IST(15/5/2014)
With exit polls making the National Democratic Alliance a clear favourite to either win a majority in the Lok Sabha or come within striking distance, potential allies are beginning to peep out of the woodwork.

Though Tamil Nadu CM and AIADMK chief J Jayalalithaa, expected to win a big chunk of seats in her state, maintained a studiedly non-committal stance, some of her leaders suggested support to the NDA was a distinct possibility.

“I am waiting eagerly for the results which will be declared on the 16th. Nothing more I can say at this juncture. I cannot make any remark on any other subject,” Jayalalithaa told reporters in Chennai.

Senior party leaders spoke positively about support and even joining the government, pointing out that Jaya is a personal friend of BJP PM candidate Narendra Modi. The two did trade barbs during the campaign, but it was relatively mild compared to Modi’s bitter jousts with Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee.

“Only Amma can take a decision but we are hopeful it will be good news,” said a senior AIADMK MP.

Aligning with the BJP would give the AIADMK the upper hand in its perennial battle against state rival the DMK and lock the DMK out of any potential alliance with the Centre.

Biju Janata Dal (BJD) chief and Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik, who had earlier ruled out the possibility of a post-poll tie-up with the BJP, appeared to sing a slightly different tune on Wednesday. He just said, “We have not thought about it (coalition with NDA, UPA or Third Front) yet… There has been no talk with anyone till now.”

Senior BJD leader Prabhat Tripathy, considered close to Patnaik, told a local news channel on Tuesday that the BJD might extend support to NDA if it promised to declare Odisha a “special category state”.

According to sources, another southern party, the Telangana Rashtra Samithi, which refused to ally with the Congress, is also keeping options open on supporting Modi.

YSR Congress leader Jaganmohan Reddy has already hinted that he is not averse to supporting the NDA government.

The one no-go zone for the NDA with Modi as its torchbearer appears to be Mamata’s Bengal. Sources said the Trinamool Congress was open to discussions only if the BJP dumped Modi, an eventuality that is looking like an impossibility.

The Congress leadership too, has silently reached out to some potential allies. Top sources said that Congress president Sonia Gandhi had called Mamata last week. After that conversation, Congress deputy Rahul Gandhi went soft on the Trinamool government in his last rally in West Bengal.

The Left parties too, are waiting for the results before making their next moves. “We have not spoken to anyone. We will resume talks only after the results come out,” CPI(M) politburo member Sitaram Yechury told HT.

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