Without Jayalalithaa the BJP may find the going tough in South India, says Vicky Nanjappa
In what appears to be a major setback for the Bharatiya Janata Party’s hopes in South India, the All India Anna Dravida Munetra Kazhagam supremo has entered into an alliance with the Communist Party of India.
The AIADMK, which appeared to be leaning towards the BJP all through, now, seems to be striking a pact with the third front. Jayalalithaa is hopeful of winning 30 out of the 39 seats in Tamil Nadu and also the one at Pondicherry.
Going by what transpired at an internal meeting of the AIDMK, it is clear that she is aiming for the prime minister’s chair. According to sources, her party workers advised her that she could aim for the top spot instead of giving outside support despite having so many seats at her disposal. She felt that she had a better shot at the PM's post if she went along with the third front.
However, sources say that she would play her cards carefully. In case she manages to win only 20 seats, then she would lose that bargaining power and would ally with the BJP instead.
There is a lot of interest being generated, especially in Andhra Pradesh, following this new development. The AIDMK's foray into the third front has got Jagan Mohan Reddy interested as well. His party, the YSR Congress, would prefer being part of the third front instead of allying either with the Congress or the BJP.
If he joins the Congress, his long term prospects will be hurt. He is seeking an anti-Congress vote on the Telangana issue and also ‘betrayal’ by the former. He showed some inclination towards the BJP, but has not said anything publicly.
The fact is that he wants to be in power both in AP as well as have a say at the Centre. Allying with the BJP may give him power, but that would hurt his secular image. With a party like the AIADMK tilting towards the third front, Jagan would also consider doing the same, say sources.
He too is expecting to win a lot of seats in Seema-Andhra and would be in a better position to bargain. His confidence has only gone up following the AIDMK-CPI tie up.
Meanwhile the BJP which had held off any pre-poll alliance with the Telugu Desam Party is now pushing hard for the same. BJP leaders Venkaiah Naidu and L K Advani are trying to convince the party’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi to enter into an alliance with the TDP right away. They claim that Jagan is a fence sitter and the TDP is a more trusted ally. Modi is however yet to consider this proposal.
Jayalalithaa’s decision and Jagan’s interest has made the third front look like strong force.
Without Jayalalithaa the BJP may find the going tough in South India. In Karnataka, it is hoping to push its tally to at least 17; while realisitically, BJP sources say that it would be good even they win anything between 10 and 14 seats.
In Andhra Pradesh, the party is expected to win not more than two seats. A lot would ride on alliances with either the Telangana Rashtra Samithi and the TDP. The alliance with the TRS looks tough for now since the party has clearly stated that is exploring all possibilities of working with the Congress.
In Tamil Nadu it was a known fact that the BJP is weak there, and the tie-ups with the Marumalarchi Dravida Munetra Kazhagam and Pattali Makkal Katchi may just not be enough for them. Kerala is not yet a BJP bastion and there is really not much focus there by the party.