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Enter NDA, Mamata gets muscle

india Updated: Dec 27, 2006 01:53 IST

BJP president Rajnath Singh is keen to keep the NDA coalition together, despite swearing by the Ram temple at the recent Lucknow conclave to keep the Sangh happy.

Rajnath announced that an emergency NDA meeting will be held on Wednesday to discuss the Singur impasse and chalk out the strategy to fight the CPI-M there. After a 70-minute meeting with Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee in Kolkata on Tuesday, Rajnath said the NDA will meet at Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s residence in New Delhi at 12 noon on Wednesday.

“I want Mamata to know that the entire NDA is with her in her agitation against the Left Front government’s land policy in Singur,” Rajnath said. The move, say observers, was spurred by political compulsions. Rajnath believes that if the BJP has to keep the core constituency happy even in a state like Uttar Pradesh, he has to project the NDA as a strong alternative to the Congress and the Left combine.

This is his first political “move” after the ratification of his election as BJP president for the next three years. Mamata Banerjee’s fast against transferring farmland in rural Singur in Hooghly district for a Tata small car project entered the 23rd day on Tuesday.

Rajnath had been to Kolkata earlier to express BJP’s solidarity with Mamata, and courted arrest.

Before announcing the meeting, the BJP president spoke to Janata Dal (United) chief Sharad Yadav and consulted former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and leader of the Opposition L.K. Advani. Both Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar and Sharad Yadav dismissed Singh’s assertion on the Ram temple issue, saying the NDA stood by the agenda of the governance and not by what the BJP says. Sharad Yadav even said, “We are not taking Rajnath Singh’s statement on constructing the Ram temple seriously. We will not pull out of NDA over it as it is a non-issue for us.”

Rajnath has been looking at Singur as a “uniting factor” for the NDA, with Nitish Kumar and the Janata Dal(U) ruling out setting up any Special Economic Zones (SEZs) in the BJP-JD(U) coalition-ruled Bihar. In his presidential address at the Lucknow conclave, Rajnath referred to Singur, signalling that BJP had shed its “initial inhibition to take a stand against SEZs.”

Email Shekhar Iyer: siyer @hindustantimes.com