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HindustanTimes Tue,30 Sep 2014

Modi to make his presence felt in northeast, south

Kumar Uttam , Hindustan Times  New Delhi, February 09, 2014
First Published: 12:47 IST(9/2/2014) | Last Updated: 12:50 IST(9/2/2014)

The BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi has decided to make his presence felt in northeast and south — areas which have so far given the BJP the cold shoulder. BJP strategists hope sustained efforts could lead to significant gains in these 'politically dry' regions — both in terms of seats and allies.

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On Saturday, he addressed meetings in Manipur, Assam and Tamil Nadu. A day after, two rallies are planned in Kerala. On February 22, he wil be back in the northeast, addressing voters in Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and Tripura.

The eight northeastern states account for 25 Lok Sabha seats — of which only four are with the BJP. The Congress has 13. And in south, Karnataka contributed the maximum number of seats — 19 — to the BJP kitty in 2009.

With all its four seats in Assam, the BJP considers the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) a prospective ally. But it plans to hedge its bets with other tie-ups. Topping the list of prospective allies is the National People's Party of former Lok Sabha speaker PA Sangma. The BJP hopes for some reciprocation from the former Congressman, whom it supported for the Presidential polls in 2012.

Down south, excited about Lingayat strongman BS Yeddyurappa's return to the party fold, BJP strategists are working overtime. “Modi will address rallies in Karnataka on February 18 and 28,” said a BJP leader.

But the party is leaving no stone unturned — even states held by regional parties in east and north would get enough attention. Another rally would be held in Odisha — the BJD bastion — on February 11.

The much-awaited Lucknow rally is slated for March 2. It would be followed by yet another one in Bihar, the turf of Modi's arch-rival Nitish Kumar, on March 3.


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