BJP woos parties to widen NDA base ahead of LS polls

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New Delhi, Aug 13 (UNI) In an effort to expand the NDA's base ahead of the next Lok Sabha polls, senior BJP leaders are busy wooing non-Congress parties into the BJP-led alliance for pre-poll and post-poll understanding.

As the first step, senior BJP Vice President and Convenor for the Lok Sabha polls Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi convened an hour long meeting with Rashtriya Lok Dal chief Ajit Singh, who is officially with the United National Progressive Alliance (UNPA) but the partymen are sulking against a non-starter alliance stuck with Bahujan Samaj Party of UP Chief Minister Mayawati.

The BJP which had alliance with Ajit Singh's party is only renewing its contacts, sources said.

This meeting is significant for the BJP which is bound to make all efforts to enhance its leverage in Uttar Pradesh, the country's largest state in terms of population, sources in the BJP said confirming the meeting.

Important parties in the scanner are non-Congress parties like AIADMK of former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa, Asom Gana Parishad, Indian National Lok Dal of former Haryana Chief Minister Om Prakash Chautala.

Senior party leaders Jaswant Singh, M Venkaiah Naidu, Arun aitley, Sushma Swaraj and Ravishankar Prasad have all some ground work in building bridges with the likeminded parties.

Even the post-poll scenario is being carefully worked out taking into account the possibilities of no alliance getting a total majority.

Sources say the BJP may contest 350 of the 543 Lok Sabha seats leaving the rest to alliance partners and the party's concentration would be on those 290 seats from where it had either won or stood second in the in the Lok Sabha polls in the last 10 years.

However, these calculations may have little meaning since geographical boundaries of several constituencies have undergone changes both for General and Reserved seats for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.

After having projected Leader of Opposition L K Advani as the BJP-NDA's next Prime Ministerial nominee, the party also wanted to announce the names of the MPs and has even finalised a handful of nominees but decided to go slow in view of the shifting loyalties displayed by some MPs in the July 22 Confidence Vote.

Now the party will not be just harping on the winnability factor but also loyalty aspect , sources said. Regarding the post-poll understanding, the party is not ready to spell out its mind but feels that most anti-Congress parties would figure in the radar.

Given the BJP's equations with the BSP Chief, there could be no post-poll understanding although one powerful section has not shut their post-poll options.

The major parties now in the NDA are Janata Dal (United), Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal), Biju Janata Dal, Shiv Sena, Swatantra Bharat Party of Sharad Joshi.

The status of Trinamool Congress is uncertain given the nature of West Bengal politics.

UNI MCN ARB ND1532

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