The stunning electoral debut of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and Manmohan Singh ruling himself out of the prime ministerial race has forced the BJP to recalibrate its strategy for the 2014 general elections.
The biggest impact of the AAP factor will be on choosing a candidate with a clean image as BJP prepares to announce its first list for the Lok Sabha polls after its national executive and national council meeting on January 18-19. At present, the party is busy cobbling alliances with its former allies and even smaller regional players.
Lingayat strongman B S Yeddyurappa’s return to the party fold despite a taint against his name is indication that the party was trying to hang on to the 19 seats it won in Karnataka during 2009 at all costs. His formal return to the party to be endorsed at the party’s national meet would mean that Yeddyurappa or even his son may not get a ticket to contest the Lok Sabha elections. “Yeddyurappa has promised to return without any conditions. It’s clear what it would mean,” a senior BJP leader said hinting that the former CM may not have much role in candidate selection or even contesting.
“He is important. We saw when we fought the last state Assembly election separately, we lost power. When he returns there may be criticism, but we hope it would be over within a few days. But his influence in the state would translate into seats,” another BJP leader said, explaining why every seat was important.
After Yeddyurappa, the BJP is almost certain of bringing back its former NDA allies Vaiko-led MDMK and S Ramadoss-led PMK. Both these parties were part of the NDA when it was in power in 1998 and 1999-2004.
The BJP had won one seat in 1998 and six in 1999 in Tamil Nadu when it was in alliance with the DMK and others. The NDA alliance won 26 seats out of the 39, its best performance ever. The AIDMK had aligned with Congress at that time. BJP won seats like Tiruchi, Kanyakumari, Coimbatore, and Niligris, in alliance.
After parting ways with the Congress, the DMK has again started warming up to the BJP, but the saffron party is not ready to take all “muck” generated by the 2G spectrum scam, which saw involvement of DMK minister A Raja, upon itself. “We won’t align with DMK,” a BJP leader said.
After Tamil Nadu, an alliance with the Chandrababu Naidu-led Telugu Desam Party in Andhra Pradesh also appears to be on cards. “He needs us more than we need him,” a BJP leader from Andhra Pradesh said. TDP was also part of the AB Vajpayee-led NDA when it went on to win 29 seats, while the BJP won seven in 1999.
In the North, the BJP though already in alliance with the Kuldeep Bhisnoi-led Haryana Janhit Party, an alliance with Chautalas-led Indian National Lok Dal has the party divided. With Om Prakash Chuatala in jail on corruption charges, a certain section is against aligning with them.
“Modi is keen that the party makes a strong pitch at all those seats where the party ever had a presence. We are strengthening the booth level teams and social media presence,” BJP source said.