With the Narendra Modi-led NDA expected to win the Lok Sabha elections, J Jayalalithaa’s AIADMK and Naveen Patnaik’s BJD appeared to be veering to the side of the new dispensation in a manner ‘beneficial’ to their respective states. The victory margin will be the key to the nature of support the two former allies would lend, if a Modi-led government comes into being. Both the Chief Ministers, therefore, strategically kept their cards close to the chest, choosing to remain non-committal till Friday. Making light of a query on her party lending support to the BJP, Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa said in Chennai, “All I can say at this juncture is, let’s wait for the results to come out. I will give you my comments then.”
However, the AIADMK chief did not quite contradict the broad hints dropped by second-rung leader of her party K Malaisamy earlier in the day. The latter said that Narendra Modi “is a great friend” of Jayalalithaa. “They may differ politically. If he (Modi) becomes PM, then Madam would like close ties,” Malaisamy added.
As if in tandem, BJD leader Pravat Tripathi indicated the possibility of his party returning to the NDA fold. “Keeping in view the opinion of the whole country and the State’s interest, there should be no problem in providing conditional support to the NDA to form the government at the Centre,” he said. Later, Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik himself clarified in Delhi, “I want to state here quite clearly that no decision has been taken on any alliance. We will see in the future… You don’t have long to wait, just day after tomorrow.”
Commenting on the day’s alliance-making enterprise, BJP spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain remarked somewhat flippantly, “After the exit polls, the entire country wants to join Narendra Modi. We will take everyone together… If someone wants to join us, our doors are always open.”
In the event of BJP winning around 225 seats with its existing allies, it would need new alliances to touch the halfway mark of 272 in Lok Sabha. A top BJP leader indicated that in such a scenario, the party would want the new allies to join the government to provide it “stability” - one of the clauses that President Pranab Mukherjee is likely to insist upon, the other being “letters of support”.
Alternatively, if the NDA sweeps to polls with a comfortable majority, it will still look for more allies to keep the new government “in the comfort zone in the Rajya Sabha”, without which passing legislations could become a nightmare, as the UPA-II experience showed.
BJD leader Bhatrihari Mahtab, in fact, said, “First, we have to know whether they (BJP) need our support and what kind of support. For that formal talks have to take place. More than a berth or two in the Cabinet, what we would like is a special package for the State.”
The thinking in the AIADMK, it seems, is not too dissimilar to that of the BJD, with leaders hinting that they would not mind joining the government with one or two Cabinet ranks, else it would have to be an “issue-based support”.
Despite the heavy speculation, sources in the BJP said, Modi himself was not willing to decide on the contours of the government, unless the results are out.