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As polls near, allies mount pressure on BJP, Cong

January 18, 2009 17:36 IST

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Sonia Gandhi [Images] and L K Advani [Images] are faced with a lot of political headache ahead of the Lok Sabha polls with their allies trying to extract maximum seats in the seat-sharing talks.

Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party have become the favourite punching bags for allies wanting to extract maximum seats from their rival groups being led by the two national parties.

The Samajwadi Party, the key outside supporter of the Government at the Centre, has left the Congress red faced by announcing 52 of its candidates in Uttar Pradesh [Images] in the midst of the seat-sharing exercise.

Sharad Pawar-led Nationalist Congress Party has demanded a minimum of 41 seats, including 26 in Maharashtra claiming that it was by all means the single largest party in the key state where the coalition is headed by Congress.

Lok Janshakti Party chief Ram Vilas Paswan has brought fresh worries to Gandhi declaring that there was no question of a tie-up with the Lalu Prasad-led Rashtriya Janata Dal in Bihar, a state which is likely to have a really kin battle with the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance.

Amar Singh [Images] of the Samajwadi Party has declared that his party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav [Images] as also NCP's Pawar are soon planning a get together of leaders of like minded non-Congress parties to establish a separate identity within the ruling alliance.

Despite his denials that the move was not intended as pressure tactics, leaders from the grand old party are pretty aware of the game ahead but downplaying the development as Congress wants to keep the allies in good humour.

The sacking of Congress spokesman, Satyavrat Chaturvedi, who advised Amar Singh to have a medical checkup has sent out the signal that the grand old party wants to go the extra mile to ensure that no one upsets its applecart.

Things are not different in the BJP. Its allies, including the Shiv sena, Biju Janata Dal, Akali Dal and Janata Dal-United have grievances of their own. The Nitish Kumar-led party has sought three more seats in Bihar and Navin Patnaik's BJD is telling the saffron party to realise that the ground situation in Orissa has undergone a change.

As the BJP leadership is grappling with the issue of seat sharing for the Lok Sabha polls, the Akali Dal has initiated moves to make Sukhbir Badal Deputy Chief Minister in Punjab notwithstanding protests from the state BJP.

Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress, which has been the part of the BJP-led NDA for all these years, has turned lukewarm and is toying with the idea of going with the Congress in the changed circumstances.

The saffron party has not been overjoyed after the recent assembly elections which saw the Congress winning three of the five states.

Former Vice-President Bhairon Singh Shekhawat's announcement to contest the next Lok Sabha elections has also caused a flutter in the saffron party which is seeking to get battle ready to make Advani the next Prime Minister.

The 'Vibrant Gujarat' event has not raised the comfort level of the BJP with India Inc rallying behind Narendra Modi [Images] with some industrialists hailing the Gujarat Chief Minister as PM material.

The Ajit Singh-led Rashtriya Lok Dal and the Asom Gana Parishad are proposing to the BJP their readiness for seat sharing without being part of the NDA, a move of keeping their options open in the post-poll scenario.

Leaders of the Congress and the BJP are, however, downplaying the problems being faced by them taking the line that these things are natural in a thriving democracy.

Union Minister Shakeel Ahmed says it was natural for any political party to strive to have the maximum share in power.

Prakash Javadekar, BJP spokesperson, hopes that seat sharing would be a smooth affair for the saffron party.

Samajwadi Party leader Mohan Singh says that the removal of Chaturvedi as Spokesman by Congress was a signal by that party that it was "eager" for a tie-up with his party.




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