Small parties? ambitions cheer BJP

BJP?s ?feel good? slogan couldn?t exactly camouflage harsh electoral realities in Hindi heartland and Gujarat and Maharashtra, where it seemed in no position to improve on its 1999 tally. But finally, there are hopes for it.

india Updated: Apr 04, 2004 15:13 IST

The BJP’s ‘feel good’ slogan couldn’t exactly camouflage the harsh electoral realities in the Hindi heartland and Gujarat and Maharashtra, where the party seemed in no position to improve on its 1999 tally. But finally, there are hopes of its claims coming good.

The chaos in the secular camp has brought cheer to the parivar. With most non-NDA parties — the BSP, SP, RJD, Lok Janshakti, Forward Bloc and Muslim League — setting up candidates in areas beyond their strongholds, the split in the anti-BJP vote appears inevitable.

If the secular spectrum is bereft of united colours, it’s thanks to the non-NDA groupings’ ambitions to play king makers in the post-poll scenario. In fact, most regional chieftains are inspired by Chandrababu Naidu, without whose outside support the BJP wouldn’t have ruled since 1998.

But unlike Naidu, the likes of Mulayam Singh, Laloo Prasad, Mayawati and Jayalalitha aren’t just playing for a bigger share but also a bigger role — including that of Prime Minister — in the 14th House. Sharad Pawar too has prime ministerial ambitions but his party, on sewing up an alliance with the Congress, has been restrained.

This is not to discount that parties such as the SP could also be motivated by the need to secure national status. But the political cost of the move is too apparent to be missed. A division in the Dalit-Muslim- tribal-OBC vote would only help the NDA.

Under pressure not to ally with the Congress, Mayawati, actually, has done much more than what her alleged tormentors desired. Her 325 candidates, including 80 in UP, will be spoilers more and winners less.

Likewise, the 270 seats identified by the SP include the 40 in Bihar, where it will only dent Laloo’s Muslim-Yadav base. “He is helping the BJP. He is a vote katua (vote cutter),” said RJD’s Prem Gupta. In retaliation, Laloo has decided to put up nearly three dozen candidates in UP. To add to the confusion, Ram Vilas Paswan wants 12 seats in Bihar.

The writing on the wall has triggered tumult. Syed Shahabuddin has attacked Mulayam for his “behind the scenes’’ understanding with the BJP. But what holds true of the SP applies as much to the IUML, which will contest 21 seats in UP, including Vajpayee’s Lucknow. Even the Forward Bloc has a list of 25 for 10 states.

<B>SP open to Cong pact</B>

Samajwadi Party leader and UP Minister Azam Khan on Thursday said ‘doors for talks with the Congress are still not closed’. Asked if the SP would field a candidate against Sonia Gandhi at Amethi, Khan said: ‘Mulayam Singh Yadav (above) has never shown disrespect to Sonia or made personal attacks on her.

PTI

First Published: Mar 19, 2004 12:50 IST