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BJP to discuss strategy Tuesday

Nistula Hebbar | May 11, 2004 02:40 IST

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders will gather at Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's residence tomorrow and again on May 13 to decide their future strategy.

Vajpayee, Deputy Prime Minister LK Advani and Finance Minister Jaswant Singh had an impromptu meeting Monday. On Tuesday, BJP President Venkaiah Naidu will return from his tour and a meeting is likely in the afternoon.

If the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) falls short of the 272 mark, NDA Convenor George Fernandes is likely to contact the Vaiko-led MDMK and the Ramadoss-led PMK in Tamil Nadu, to try and break the DMK alliance and wean away these two parties, which between them may bring up to 9 seats to the NDA.

Vaiko is reportedly not comfortable in a Congress alliance and had called on Fernandes a few weeks ago. Fernandes has made no secret of his pro-militant Tamil associations.

Fernandes, along with Pramod Mahajan, has been also asked to explore alliance possibilities with the Samajwadi Party (SP). "Though the SP has been making anti-BJP noises, the fact is that the survival of the SP-led Uttar Pradesh government is dependent on the BJP's tacit support," said a BJP leader.

The BJP is also likely to re-examine its alliances at the state level. Assembly polls are due in Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Assam and Haryana next year, and the party is determined to change matters this time.

The BJP has unofficially opened channels of communication with parties that could be potential allies.

"Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi and Arun Jaitley are likely to speak to the Bahujan Samaj Party, Venkaiah Naidu will be speaking to southern parties, including the Telangana Rashtra Samiti, while the Indian National Lok Dal and National Conference are going to be dealt with by Deputy Prime Minister L K Advani," said a senior BJP leader.

The party has not ruled out talks with the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha either, and have left this to Mahajan and Sushma Swaraj.

"The NDA started with 22 allies. Now we have 9 major parties with us. Obviously, we are looking at expanding the coalition if the need arises," he said.

He added that  results in Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh will determine the next government at the Centre.

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