VENKATESH KESARI | 2 JUNE, 2017

Presidential Polls: Aggressive BJP Scares Regional Allies to Explore New Options

VENKATESH KESARI


NEW DELHI: The election for the next President of India, that are around the corner now, has turned into an occasion for the regional parties in particular to exercise their muscle for fear of these being turned flaccid by an increasingly aggressive Bharatiya Janata Party.

The Congress party along with the Janata Dal(U), Trinamool Congress, DMK, Left and others has initiated a move to field a Presidential candidate for the forthcoming polls. This was set to be a symbolic election with the BJP confident that its shortfall of 25000 votes would be mopre than made up by its NDA allies as well as AIADMK, Telangana Rashtriya Samiti and the Biju Janata Dal.

However, sources now suggest that this confidence seems to be exaggerated as the regional outfits remaining out of the Congress initiative, are now becoming worried about their own survival in the states.

BJP President Amit Shah’s recent statement of winning the Assembly elections in the states has antagonised and worried both the BJD and the TRS that had so far not responded to Opposition efforts soliciting their support for the Presidential elections. The Shiv Sena has at best a see-saw relationship with the BJP in Maharashtra, and is having second thoughts about going along with the larger party on the Presidential polls.

It seems certain now that while Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been remaining tight lipped on the Presidential candidate,the behavior of at least three parties that the BJP was counting on--the Shiv Sena,the Biju Janata Dal,the Telangana Rashtra Samiti-will be unpredictable in this election.

The AIADMK has not revealed its cards on the support so far but sources said that the party could certainly not be taken for granted by the BJP. And there were several legislators within who did not want to support the ruling party candidate in these elections.

The total strength of just these parties in the two Houses of Parliament is over 100. While the Shiv Sena is a constituent of the BJP led NDA at the national level,it is has become a post poll ally of the saffron party in the Maharashtra legislature thus sharing power with it as a junior ally. But the BJD, the TRS and the AIADMK are neither with the BJP nor with the Congress. However, they can support a candidate who does not belong to either the BJP and the Congress, along with the other regional parties.

The Shiv Sena(21MPs) had voted against the BJP backed nominees in the last two Presidential elections under different pretexts and thus openly backed the UPA supported candidates Pratibha Patil and Pranab Mukherjee, despite remaining in the NDA.

The BJD had quit the BJP led NDA long back but did not become friendly with the Congress. It cannot remain neutral in this election after Amit Shah’s remarks saying that Orissa, along with West Bengal and Tripura are on top of the BJP agenda, and that it will come to power in all three states.The BJD which has been ruling Orissa,has 20 members in the Lok Sabha and eight in the Rajya Sabha.

The story of TRS is not very different from the BJD.It has come to power in Telangana by marginalizing the Congress and the BJP as well as the regional Telugu Desam Party and the YSR Congress party.

If the Chandrababu Naidu led TDP is a partner of the BJP in the NDA, the YSR Congress Party's open support to PM Narendra Modi for the Presidential polls, has alerted both the TDP and the TRS. However the TDP has no option but to remain with the BJP till 2019.

The TRS has 11 members in the Lok Sabha and three in the Upper House. The Telangana chief minister is praising the Prime Minister but attacking the BJP chief these days .His party too, sources said, will be comfortable with a non BJP, non Congress candidate in this election.

The AIADMK which has 37 members in the Lok Sabha and 13 in the Rajya Sabha,is leaderless after the demise of J Jayalalithaa.. But it is still not clear how it will keep its flock together behind the BJP, more so with reports suggesting that film star Rajnikant is joining active politics and moving closer to the BJP.
 

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