Modi chalks out game plan
BJP’s prime ministerial aspirant Narendra Modi, in consultation with other senior party leaders, appears to have finalised a strategy to be adopted for formation of the next government, depending on the outcome of the Lok Sabha polls on Friday.
The numbers that the Bharatiya Janata Party gets on its own and those of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), which is led by it, would determine the course to be charted for staking claim to form the government, senior leaders told Deccan Herald.
The BJP plans became clearer as the day saw a series of meetings involving party chief Rajnath Singh and other leaders, including L K Advani as well as those from the party’s ideological parent, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. The BJP parliamentary board will meet on May 17 to take forward the action plan.
Contradicting reports, senior party officials insisted that it was too “premature” to talk about portfolios or even Speakership for any BJP leader.
However, the task of finding appropriate roles for senior leaders such as Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi did come up for discussion.
Similarly, preferences of leaders like Sushma Swaraj for key assignments were “noted” but Modi would rather wait for things to take final shape, they said. In the event of the right numbers, Modi would succeed as the leader of the BJP parliamentary party as well as that of the NDA, both of which are held by Advani, as the RSS does not want dual power centres.
Meanwhile, Rajnath Singh appeared to be having a rethink on his stand of not joining the government if voted to power.
Sources close to Singh said the party chief has left it to the RSS to take a call on his future, but would like to be “respectably rewarded” for steering the BJP through the campaign months.
Singh moving to the government would be a repeat of what patriarch Advani did in 1998 when the NDA came to power. For a year, Advani had held both the posts in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee regime — that of party president and Union home minister.
Notwithstanding the exit polls that gave the BJP a lead in the tally, Modi and other leaders, including Singh, Arun Jaitley and Nitin Gadkari were looking at three possible scenarios. In scenario one, the BJP wins upwards of 250-260 seats and has no problem to form the government with its NDA partners.
This is the best situation for Modi as he will get a free hand to decide the composition of his ministerial team as well as portfolios.
In scenario two, the BJP bags around 210-220 seats and will thus be in a position to stake to form the government with its NDA partners, but would need the support of regional and smaller parties.
This would require senior BJP leaders being tasked with reaching out to regional parties like the Telangana Rashtra Samithi and the YSR Congress.
The third scenario is the most challenging for Modi and the BJP. The BJP wins only about 170-180 seats and will need the support of not just its allies in the NDA, but will look for new partners like the AIADMK and the Biju Janata Dal to meet the half-way mark of 272 in a 543-seat House.
The most daunting aspect of such a situation is that the Congress, which is hoping to get 120 to 130 seats, will join hands with non-BJP parties to try and prevent Modi from staking claim, BJP leaders said.
But as things stood stand, Modi had his fingers crossed like the regional parties, including Jayalalitha-led AIADMK, TRS and the DMK.
Amid the BJP’s readiness to welcome new allies, the TRS kept its options open on support even as the DMK ruled out backing the Modi-led NDA government because of the “stigma” of the 2002 Gujarat riots.
AIADMK supremo J Jayalalitha expelled party leader and former Rajya Sabha MP K Malaisamy, who a day ago said that Modi was her “good friend”.
A party statement said Malaisamy has been removed from the primary membership of the AIADMK for violating party discipline and for bringing disrepute to its image.