Are Narendra Modi and J Jayalalithaa overconfident about the numbers they will muster in the next Lok Sabha? That’s what poll pundits are wondering after BJP’s PM candidate Modi attacked the AIADMK following Tamil Nadu chief minister Jayalalithaa’s surprise offensive against the saffron party over the weekend.
BJP's prime ministerial candidate and Gujarat CM Narendra Modi in Sundargarh district for an election campaign meet. (Arabinda Mahapatra/HT photo)
Modi has not even spared West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee or Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik in his campaigns in the two eastern states. Banerjee and Patnaik were being seen by the BJP as potential allies if the NDA is within striking distance of forming the next government.
Does all this mean that the BJP is ready to do without these three potential allies after the poll results are out on May 16? BJP leaders insist that is not the case.
But AIADMK insiders have a different take. They point out that Jayalalithaa is not one who would take kindly to Modi equating her party and the DMK in the same breath. Also, Jayalalithaa’s attack on the BJP came after Modi’s much-publicised visit to film star Rajinikanth’s house and the actor declaring his support for Modi.
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“Jayalalithaa is not likely to take a soft view of Modi’s interaction with Rajinikanth, who has not been on friendly terms with her since 1996 when he came out against Amma,” said an AIADMK insider.
But a BJP strategist said, “Modi’s attacks should be seen in the context of election rhetoric as well as the thrust of Jayalalithaa’s speeches in her campaign in which she exhorts people to give her more seats to do better business with whoever comes to power at the Centre.”
He also pointed out that Modi’s attacks on the AIADMK and Trinamool Congress came only after Jayalalithaa and Banerjee criticised the BJP.
“Jayalalithaa’s criticism of the BJP and Congress on the Cauvery issue and Banerjee’s act of flaying Modi are not in the same category,” said another party functionary. While Banerjee has to ensure that the Muslim votes remain in her kitty, Jayalalithaa has to show that the AIADMK remains the best bet for voters in her state.
BJP leaders say Jayalalithaa and Banerjee should know that Modi is under pressure from his party leaders in Tamil Nadu and West Bengal to speak out strongly against them as the BJP is fighting on its own in these states.
“With opinion polls predicting that Jayalalithaa is poised to bet the lion’s share of Tamil Nadu’s 39 Lok Sabha seats and the BJP is ahead at the national level, both sides cannot rule out an understanding after the results are out,” the BJP functionary added.