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Not picture-perfect anymore

With allies deserting them, both Congress and BJP are hunting for new partners but with little success, reports Nagendar Sharma.

delhi Updated: Mar 31, 2009 00:08 IST
Nagendar Sharma
Nagendar Sharma
Hindustan Times

The BJP, which gleefully watched the Congress being deserted by the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) partners, finds itself in the same spot, with not many parties willing to join hands with it.

The Congress and the BJP — which have alternatively led alliance governments at the Centre in the past decade, with the numbers of allies running in double figures — find themselves at crossroads. The tally of allies for both parties has now been reduced to six each.

The BJP, which had last week declared the “UPA was disintegrating,” is itself banking on “hidden friends,” in the words of party chief Rajnath Singh for post-poll tie-ups.

He did not name any prospective ally, knowing fully well that it would not be an easy job even as the party tries to work out the right alliance formula.

The Congress, aware of the fact that the Left parties-led Third Front is drawing new allies, seems to have changed its strategy. “We’re confident of emerging as the single largest party and expect the secular parties to support us,” general secretary Digvijay Singh said.

Asked if the party would back the Third Front in case of a hung House, Digvijay said: “Past experiences show that the Congress extending outside support to any Third Front to form a government is not a viable option. If we can’t lead a secular government, then … sitting in the Opposition is a real option.”

Both the parties are worried they are becoming untouchable for a majority of parties they have done business with. “Regional parties want a greater share of power at the Centre since they know no single-party government can be formed,” said a Congress leader.

The first real surprise in the run up to the elections was Orissa Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik dumping the BJP after a decade of alliance.

Putting up a brave face, the BJP chief said more allies had joined since Patnaik’s Biju Janata Dal (BJD) walked out of the NDA. “Three parties have joined us: Rashtriya Lok Dal, Indian National Lok Dal and Asom Gana Parishad (AGP). The NDA’s power has increased.”

The AGP, however, has made it clear that it’s not a part of the NDA, and its understanding is restricted to seat-sharing.

Things aren’t too smooth with the Jat allies — Chautala’s INLD and Ajit Singh’s RLD. Chautala walked out of NDA in 2003 when Ajit joined the alliance. This time, the BJP has a limited seat-sharing arrangement with Ajit.

Chautala is unhappy with his seat share in Haryana, and sources say, “All post-poll options are open. We were with the front that opposed the nuclear deal in Parliament.”

First Published: Mar 31, 2009 00:04 IST