DMK patriarch M. Karunanidhi today dropped broad hints that he may be willing to renew his party's political friendship with Narendra Modi-led BJP. Karunanidhi said in an interview to Tamil daily Dinamalar that Modi was "hard working" and "a good friend of his". Significantly, he refused to term the BJP communal, which he did barely three months back at a party rally.
The 90-year-old leader said he wouldn't want to speculate about the situation post the Lok Sabha elections when asked whether the DMK may join a BJP-led coalition government. In New Delhi, BJP MP and leader of the opposition in Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley said the party was winning more and more political allies.
He said there were "several states in which electoral tie-ups before the elections or political tie-ups after the elections are both possible and probable".
It is the political season to influence people and win friends, and the BJP is currently winning more friends than its rival the Congress. It is likely that the BJP's other competition the 11-party third front may in the days to come also lose some of its constituents like Assam Gana Parishad to the BJP-led NDA.
Regional satraps increasingly view the BJP, under Narendra Modi, favourably. As part of their 'Mission 272', the BJP's election strategists have been hard at work to convince potential allies to have electoral tie-ups.
Karunanidhi's comments are being interpreted as his overture towards the BJP. Currently, the BJP is making most of a tough situation after AIADMK chief J. Jayalalithaa spurned the party to go instead enter into an alliance with the Left parites. The party has been keen to stitch up alliances with smaller parties like the DMDK which has a sizeable 10 percent vote share, the PMK and MDMK.
Tamilnadu is a key swing state. It, along with Puducherry's one seat, sends 40 MPs to the Lok Sabha. Sources say the BJP's Tamilnadu chief La. Ganesan wants the party to have an electoral adjustment with the DMK but the central leadership feels Jayalalithaa is likely win a majority of seats in Tamilnadu and that they should wait until post elections before committing to an alliance with either of the two big Dravidian parties.
As a result, until now the party has kept its relations with both the DMK and AIADMK on an even keel. Gujarat CM Modi refrained from attacking the DMK or praising AIADMK during his public rallies in the southern state.
In Delhi, the BJP leadership is pleased with itself for having struck an alliance with the LJP. It believes to have put in place an effective electoral formula to win most of the 40 seats of Bihar. The BJP, after an alliance with the LJP, can expect to get the five percent Paswan votes which is evenly distributed across Bihar. It has also struck an alliance with Upendra Kushwaha, the leader of the OBC kushwahas and the addition of nishad leader Jai Narain Prasad Nishad would make the alliance formidable.
Jaitley said in Delhi that not many thought that the party would get allies when the BJP announced Narendra Modi as its prime ministerial candidate. He said political observers and the media felt the party would be politically isolated. Jaitley said "a strong BJP has capacity to attract more friends and allies than a weaker BJP".
He said those who had left the party in Karnataka (B.S. Yedyurappa) and Gujarat (Gordhan Zadaphia) have all returned adding to the strength of the party, and the party has significant allies in Punjab, Haryana, Maharashtra, Bihar and Tamil Nadu.
He said a stronger BJP will lead to a stronger NDA. "How to strengthen the NDA requires a lesson from Atalji's book," said Jaitley, referring to how a three party NDA in 1996 became a 24-party NDA in 1998. "To attract regional allies, one has to accept and respect India's federal and diverse character," said he.
A list of the BJP's current and potential allies across India, and expected problems:
- Omar Abdullah-led National Conference was part of NDA government at the Centre.
- Mehbooba Mufti, who leads opposition PDP, recently said her party was open to working with a BJP government in Delhi.
A settled alliance of several years with the Shiromani Akali Dal
Currently, in alliance with Kuldeep Bishnoi-led HJC, but many expect a post poll alliance with Om Prakash Chautala's INLD
Modi critic Gordhan Zadaphia back in party fold
Settled alliance with long time ally Shiv Sena, new alliances sewn up with smaller dalit and peasants parties like Ramdas Athavale's RPI and the Swabhiman Shetkari Sangathana likely to help BJP
Return of former CM B.S. Yedyurappa a shot in the arm electorally
Attempts at cobbling up pre-poll alliance of small dalit and backward castes parties
Pre-poll alliances with DMDK, MDMK and PMK but a post-poll alliance with J Jayalalithaa-led AIADMK a distinct possibility
Pre-poll alliance with N. Chandrababu Naidu's TDP in the works, post-poll alliances with YSR Congress and TRS possible
No pre-poll alliance, BJP would be keen on a post-poll alliance with Naveen Patnaik-led BJD if it falls short of numbers
No pre-poll alliance, BJP will be keen to have a post-poll alliance with Mamata Banerjee
No pre-poll alliance yet
Pre-poll alliance with Ram Vilas Paswan's LJP, Upendra Kushwaha's RLSP
No pre-poll alliance as BSP chief Mayawati indicated she would go it alone, post-poll alliance possible with her party
BJP keen for a pre-poll alliance with AGP