Power Games: Shah, Sukhbir talk tie-up as PM wants NDA expanded

According to sources, Sukhbir told Shah that he would have to talk to BSP chief Mayawati before committing.
Power Games: Shah, Sukhbir talk tie-up as PM wants NDA expanded

Election 2024
Shah, Sukhbir talk tie-up as PM wants NDA expanded

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has asked his party leaders to reconnect with all former allies of the BJP to revive and strengthen the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), the creation of which resulted in the first BJP-led government at the Centre. Sources said Union Home Minister Amit Shah 
had a 45-minute meeting with Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) president Sukhbir Badal in Delhi last week when the latter returned from a 20-day foreign trip. They discussed the possibility of a seat-sharing agreement in Punjab. SAD already has an alliance with the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP).

According to sources, Sukhbir told Shah that he would have to talk to BSP chief Mayawati before committing. He has so far not discussed the issue within his party. If SAD accepts the BJP offer, the NDA will have a formidable line-up in Punjab---BJP, SAD, BSP and the two top leaders of the Congress, Capt Amarinder Singh and Sunil Jakhar, who are now in the BJP. Sources said the BJP expects more influx from Congress once the alliance with SAD and BSP is announced.

The BJP is also talking to the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) and some smaller Uttar Pradesh and Bihar parties. During Vajpayee’s leadership, there were 23 parties in the NDA. But the alliance started shrinking as a resurgent BJP under Modi’s leadership decided to aggressively work on its own growth rather than relying on alliance partners. As a result, it lost four of its oldest and biggest allies, namely the Janata Dal (United), earlier known as Samata Party, Shiv Sena, SAD and TDP. The BJP also lost its ally in Odisha, Biju Janata Dal, over a tussle on seat sharing. The wheel seems to have come full circle.

Battle Plans 
Rahul wants ex-Congmen back into party fold

While the BJP is busy winning over its old friends, former Congress president Rahul Gandhi has reportedly asked party president Mallikarjun Kharge to try and bring back into the party fold all those who quit the Congress not because of any ideological differences but because of organisational issues. The plan has been set into motion. Among the first to be contacted was former Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh. According to sources, former general secretary Priyanka Gandhi had a long telephonic conversation with the veteran Punjab leader.

Amarinder had quit Congress after Priyanka insisted on promoting former cricketer Navjot Singh Sidhu within the party, and the leadership decided to replace the former with Charanjit Singh Channi as chief minister. The experiment proved disastrous for the Congress, and it faced a rout in the assembly election at the hands of the Aam Aadmi Party. Things have since gone downhill for the party in Punjab, with prominent leaders quitting.

Sources said Amarinder was surprised by Priyanka’s call. The talks were pleasant, but no commitments were made. Next on the list is Ghulam Nabi Azad, followed by Kapil Sibal and other members of the erstwhile Group of 23 leaders or G-23, who had walked out of the party demanding, inter alia, a free and fair election of a new Congress president and the Congress Working Committee. Their demand has been partially met with the election of Kharge as president. Interestingly, it was Rahul Gandhi’s stubborn ‘jaate hain to jayein’ (if they want to leave, they can leave) attitude that led to a flurry of exits from Congress. But in politics, there are no permanent enemies, especially in election season.

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