After Sena, BJP turns to Jaya

Written by Mukesh Ranjan | New Delhi, Sep 12 | Updated: Sep 13 2007, 04:41am hrs
The main opposition BJP has got into election mode. Even as the party raised the Hindutva banner over the Ram Sethu issue on Wednesday, its leadership has embarked on the exercise to identify potential allies and convert the NDA into a winning combination.

After ending misgivings with the Shiv Sena on Tuesday, senior BJP leader LK Advani will be travelling to Chennai next Tuesday to meet AIADMK chief J Jayalalithaa.

Advani's obvious objective will be woo her into the NDAfold. Given the row between the AIADMK and Samajwadi Party (SP), the BJP is hopeful that Jayalalitha will ultimately part ways from the newly formed Third Front. BJP circles contend that if the AIADMK gets on board the NDA, it would also mean smaller Tamil Nadu parties like the MDMK too joining in.

They also anticipate some other formations like the PMK to leave the Democratic Progressive alliance led by DMK.

Among other parties, it has also identified the Chandrashekhar Rao led Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) in Andhra Pra-desh as a potential ally.

In the north, the BJP has kept an eye on Om Prakash Chautala led INLD in Haryana, which has also sent signals to the party for its willingness to join the NDA.

There are, however, some stumbling blocks before the BJP. For instance, it will have to take a call on what it intends to do in Karnataka. The JDS seems reluctant to hand over power to the BJP as part of a prearranged pact. State BJP leaders are now favouring severing ties with them. The leadership will also have to factor its strategy vis a vis the BSP, which is expected to emerge as a key player in the national stakes. The party will have to formulate such a gameplan for Uttar Pradesh that will not entirely close doors on the BSP.

The BJP will also have to keep a watch on two key allies-- the Trinamool Congress and the TDP. With significant Muslim votebases, both the parties have shied from pre-poll arrangements with the BJP.

Meanwhile, taking the battle to the UPA, senior BJP leader LK Advani lodged his protest with the prime minister's office (PMO) over the government's submission in the Supreme Court that there was no historical evidence to establish existence of Lord Ram.

The BJP earlier in the day drew a parallel between the row over the Sethusamudram shipping canal project and its Ram temple movement, saying it found similarity in the ruling Congress' response to the saffron objections in both the cases. "A comparison can be there, it cannot be there. I see a comparison in terms of the government's response to both issues," said BJP spokesman Ravi Shankar Prasad.The VHP, on the other hand, organised country organised blockades throughout the country in protest against the Ram Sethu samudram project.