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HindustanTimes Fri,22 Aug 2014

South to north, how Modi is helping NDA win allies

Shishir Gupta , Hindustan Times  New Delhi, February 24, 2014
First Published: 01:18 IST(24/2/2014) | Last Updated: 14:43 IST(24/2/2014)

The Bharatiya Janata Party's balancing act on Telangana-Seemandhra and its prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi's growing pan-Indian support, particularly in the northeast, have forced the party to rethink reviving an electoral alliance with the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) and move fast on sealing a mutually beneficial deal with the Telugu Desam Party (TDP).

While the top BJP leadership is all for including both the AGP and TDP in the expanded National Democratic Alliance (NDA) for the Lok Sabha elections, the sangh parivar wants the Assam party to come out openly against the All India United Democratic Front of Badruddin Ajmal before it ties up with the BJP because it does not want its caste Hindu votes to be divided.

Read: Waters muddied, BJP’s only hope a Modi wave

Nagpur (RSS headquarters) sent a senior leader to Seemandhra over the weekend to prepare the cadre for an alliance with the TDP, with top BJP leaders staying in touch with Chandrababu Naidu, TDP chief.

The alliances will be discussed in the BJP parliamentary board meeting on February 27 and the TDP will be the first one to come to the NDA fold.

A top BJP strategist told Hindustan Times on anonymity the three parties stood to gain from the alliances, which would enable the NDA to reach the magical figure of 272 in the Lok Sabha elections.

Read: Modi, Rahul Gandhi in Ambani’s pocket: Kejriwal

"The BJP, by extracting an economic package for Seemandhra and rooting for the creation of Telangana, is getting pro-Modi support in the former as well in the latter. Our surveys show the BJP has some 20% vote share in Telangana and the TDP has about 14%. With the TDP joining hands, the NDA will be able to corner a large number of seats in the newly created state. In Seemandhra, we expect support for Modi as PM to be around 10% but with the TDP's big support, the NDA can give the YSR Congress a run for its money," the senior BJP leader said.

The TDP has six Lok Sabha MPs in undivided Andhra Pradesh. The party has about 92 MLAs while the BJP has two.

Read: Army men to farmers, Modi woos all in Punjab

In Assam, BJP leaders such as Narendra Modi, Rajnath Singh, Arun Jaitley and Amit Shah have pitched in for the alliance with the AGP. "Our surveys have shown that the BJP is now neck and neck with the Congress … If we tie up with the Asom Gana Parishad , with its traditional vote share of 14-15%, the National Democratic Alliance is in the reckoning for some nine of the 14 seats in the state," a BJP leader said.

Read | Quickview: BJP looks beyond the upper castes


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