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Meet the negotiators

By A Correspondent in New Delhi
May 15, 2009 14:44 IST
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They are the men and women, who will play a crucial role in the formation of the next government.

Pranab Mukherjee Gulam Nabi Azad and Ahmed Patel will liaise on behalf of Congress President Sonia Gandhi, while Gujarat Chief Miniser Narendra Modi, Jaswant Singh, S Gurumurthy and Cho Ramaswamy are the pointsmen for Bharatiya Janata Party prime ministerial candidate L K Advani.

Uttar Pradesh Governor T V Rajeshwar might not come openly, but he is the key personality to liaise with Chief Minister and Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati. The two had a quiet meeting in Lucknow on Thursday

Modi took centre-stage on Thursday, calling the shots during a 'stock-taking' meeting at Advani's residence in New Delhi.

He was to go to Chennai to meet All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam supremo J Jayalalithaa to seek her support. He, however, chose to fly to Delhi after the latter preferred the meeting on Monday in Delhi.

"What is there to hide? I am here to take part in the post-poll political process," he told mediapersons dropping hints that many in the BJP want him to play a role in national politics and so he has arrived.

The BJP leaders held two meetings on Thursday, one in the morning and another in the evening, to chalk out the strategy for wooing new allies that can help in bolstering up chances to meet the magic number of 272 in the Lok Sabha.

BJP President Rajnath Singh drove down to meet Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh leaders to seek their advice on Modi's suggestion that the party talk to all allies in the Third Front, barring the Left parties.

The party is sharply divided on doing any business with the BSP and Mayawati, but Modi insisted that such inhibitions have to be set aside.

Others confronted him by pointing out that such a truck will jeopardise the BJP's revival in Uttar Pradesh.

Sources said Advani is also personally against any tie-up with Mayawati, but he too agreed with Modi that the party should not let the chance of forming the government slip.

In his interaction with the media, Modi claimed: "The BJP will emerge as the largest party. We will join hands with others to form the government." He, however, skirted the question of who these others will be.

Rajnath Singh also endorsed Modi's contention. He said: "The BJP will emerge as the single largest party. The BJP-led National Democratic Alliance will get a majority or will fall short by a small margin in which case I am confident that other political parties will support us."

He also refused to identify the parties on which the BJP is banking on, saying the party does not discuss strategy in the media. "I can say that we are getting positive signals," he remarked.

The party has given the responsibility of roping in the Telugu Desam Party to Telengana Rashtra Samiti chief K Chandrashekhar Rao. BJP leaders are hoping that the results of the Andhra Pradesh assembly election, which were held with the Lok Sabha poll, will influence the TDP's stand.

The TDP and the TRS contested the assembly poll together and the TDP may require the TRS's support if it falls short of a majority in the assembly. That may force the TDP to back Advani to get TRS support in Hyderabad, BJP sources said.

Earlier this week, former BJP president M Venkaiah Naidu visited Hyderabad to have talks with TDP chief N Chandrababu Naidu, though nothing concrete came out as the latter still vows to stand by the Third Front.

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A Correspondent in New Delhi