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Are Jayalalithaa and Narendra Modi, said to be the best of political friends, drifting apart due to their prime ministerial ambitions?
The AIADMK chief is reportedly miffed with the BJP prime ministerial candidate’s remark that the newly cobbled together “third front”, of which she is a part, would turn India into a “third rate” country. And as Modi heads to Chennai for a rally on Saturday, the big question is whether he will reach out to her as he did to Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee in Kolkata on Wednesday.
At the Chennai rally, the BJP hopes to present a new alliance in Tamil Nadu. But with the ruling AIADMK joining the non-Congress, non-BJP front, leaders of the two parties — as well as of the opposition DMK — are keenly watching what tone the rally would take.
According to insiders, Modi and Jayalalithaa haven’t met since the former addressed his first rally in Tiruchi last September. But the two leaders are said to have kept their lines open and Jaya’s administration has always acceded to requests for travel facilities for Modi during his campaign trips.
Modi’s strategists see the Tamil Nadu CM as a potential post-poll ally who could help the BJP get the numbers to form the next government at the Centre. However, Jayalalithaa has never hidden her own PM ambitions — her party has a ‘Jaya for PM’ slogan — and is hoping to win a maximum number of the 40 seats in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry.
With the DMK family feud exploding, her chances of sweeping the state have become that much brighter.
However, with Jaya joining the Left-inspired front and announcing an alliance with the Left parties for the Lok Sabha polls, things may not be the same for the BJP and AIADMK, said party insiders. After the alliance with the Left was cemented on Sunday, veteran CPI leader AB Bardhan seemed to almost endorse her for the top post. Asked if Jayalalithaa was a PM candidate, he said, “If we succeed in the election, the prospect will open up.”
A day later, in the company of CPI(M) general secretary Prakash Karat, the CM sought to down play the issue, saying “this is not the time to decide who the next PM will be. It will be arrived at only after the elections”.
But within the alternative front too, Jayalalithaa could face a challenge from Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav, who remarked a few days ago that Uttar Pradesh had 80 seats in the Lok Sabha while Tamil Nadu had just 39.