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Pin-point strategies for last phase

Nistula Hebbar in New Delhi | May 07, 2004 08:58 IST
Last Updated: May 07, 2004 09:18 IST

The exit poll projections for the third phase of elections seem to have revived the spirits of the Bharatiya Janata Party.

In fact, party president Venkaiah Naidu is thanking pollsters for the unfavourable projections made after the second phase of polling on April 26. "We don't believe in exit polls, but the way the non-NDA (National Democratic Alliance) parties are vying for the prime minister's chair shows there is no alternative to the NDA government," he said.

The Congress too has dismissed the exit poll results as unscientific. At a party strategy committee meeting on Thursday, Congress general secretary Jaipal Reddy said: "Exit polls are unscientific. We are absolutely confident that there will be a Congress-led secular government at the Centre."

The Congress has graded constituencies going to polls on May 10. An 'A' category constituency is one where the party's chances of winning are bright, 'B' signifies a lesser chance of winning, and 'C' is reserved for seats the party has given up on. For the last phase of elections, the party will schedule election campaigns based on these gradations. Party chief Sonia Gandhi will cover only the first two categories.

The arrangement, incidentally, is a consequence of the exit poll results for the last two phases.

The BJP strategy meeting at Naidu's residence was attended by senior party leaders Yashwant Sinha, Sushma Swaraj, Bal Apte, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi and Sanjay Joshi.

According to sources within the party, the BJP is going to concentrate its energies on the seats in western Uttar Pradesh and 10 seats in Haryana, leaving the allies to fight the battle in other states.

"Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, who is a former Rampur MP, will be sent to the Sambhal constituency in western Uttar Pradesh and Rampur to help in the campaigning," said a BJP strategist.

The contest in Sambhal is between Samajwadi Party candidate and Mulayam Singh Yadav's brother, Ram Gopal Yadav; Ashok Yadav of the Congress; Bahujan Samaj Party's Tarannum Aqeel; and BJP's Om Vir Singh Kharakvanshi. "Hopefully, the Yadav and Muslim votes will get divided there, leaving the BJP in a good position," the party strategist said.

Rajendra Sharma, the BJP's contestant from Rampur, is facing two high-profile women in Begum Noor Bano of the Congress and the Samajwadi Party's Jayaprada. "Naqvi will add weight to the BJP campaign there," said a senior leader.

In Madhya Pradesh, the BJP is solely depending on Chief Minister Uma Bharti's appeal. While in West Bengal, Tamil Nadu and Punjab it is relying on its allies.

Naidu on Thursday left for Hayana. He is scheduled to campaign in West Bengal, Chennai and Tirupati.

Reacting to Pramod Mahajan's statement in Lucknow on Thursday that the party had started talks with other non-NDA parties for post-poll alliances, the BJP president said no one is untouchable to the BJP. "If people want to join us, who are we to say no," he added.


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