BJP owes its expansion to regional allies: Sushma Swaraj

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New Delhi, Jan 24 (UNI) Admitting that the party has expanded its base with the help of regional outfits, senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader Sushma Swaraj says the BJP would form a government at the Centre with the help of NDA partners even if it wins an absolute majority on its own in the next general elections.

''The BJP has expanded its base with the help of regional parties. By forging alliances with these parties, the BJP's lotus has bloomed even in those regions which have so far been politically barren for the party,'' Ms Swaraj told 'Outlook' (Hindi) magazine in an interview.

Exuding confidence that the NDA would win the next general elections and form a government at the Centre, the former Union Information and Broadcasting Minister said it appeared to be a ground reality.

''The BJP-led NDA will form a government. Even if the BJP garners 272 or 291 seats in the Lok Sabha elections, the government will be of the NDA, not of the BJP,'' she said.

Ms Swaraj also asserted that the main plank of the NDA in the next general elections would be ''our sushasan'' (good governance) and the UPA's allround fiasco.

She said it would be fallacious to contend that the BJP had suffered because of coalition politics and its ties with regional parties. On the other hand, the coalition politics had greatly helped the expansion of the BJP, not its political shrinkage.

Buttressing her contention, she said the BJP is strong on its own in states like Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Himachal Pradesh, Delhi, Gujarat and Jharkhand, but the party benefited immensely in Haryana and Punjab when it contested elections in alliance with regional parties.

The BJP won in Punjab when it had struck an alliance with the Akali Dal and garnered 19 seats. Similarly, the party had benefited in Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Maharashtra, Goa, Orissa and Bihar through coalition arrangements, she said.

Asked about Uttar Prdesh, she said the BJP delayed in becoming the alternative of Mr Mulayam Singh Yadav -- a situation that was exploited to the hilt by BSP leader Ms Mayawati.

Interestingly, Ms Swaraj held the single party dominance of the Congress responsible for the rise of regional parties. ''Had the Congress discharged its responsibilities in a judicious manner, the regional parties would not have risen on the country's political horizon,'' she argued.

Ms Swaraj, who is BJP's Deputy Leader in the Rajya Sabha, however, defended the emergence of regional parties, saying it was in tune with the interest of national integration.

''The politics of separatism has been weakened with the emergence of regional parties. It has also widened the outlook of these parties and fulfilled the regional aspirations,'' she added.

She also justified the BJP's jettisoning of its main planks -- Ayodhya, Art. 370 and Common Civil Code -- because of coalition politics. ''But we did not do it in a surreptitious manner; we sought mandate from the people in the name of 'sushasan' (good governance). We did not betray the electorate.'' On the issue of women's reservation bill, she said the NDA government, at least, had been to get it introduced in Parliament twice, but the UPA government was yet to do so.

UNI SKS SB AS1911

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