One last dash for magic figure

NEW DELHI: As several exit polls have suggested that the Indian National Congress (INC) would emerge as the single largest party with a slender lead over its arch-rival the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the hunt for potential

allies has intensified in the Indian capital.

The INC and the BJP have set their eyes on the most populous states that send maximum number of candidates to the Lower House of parliament — namely Uttar Pradesh (80), Maharashtra (48), West Bengal (42), Andhra Pradesh (42), Bihar (40) and Tamil Nadu (39).

The INC and BJP are keenly watching who will emerge as the largest party in these crucial states.

With the Election Commission only hours away from announcing the final poll results, the parties are ready to bury their hatchet and reach out to each and every potential ally.

“The largest alliance will need around 70-80 seats from outside. Hence, cobbling together a coalition will be a tad difficult. Since, none of the political parties want another election soon, they will have ultimately have to come together,” said Sanjay Kumar, Fellow, Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS).

Given the complexities of forming a new coalition, the INC has already begun negotiations with its disenchanted allies like the Samajwadi Party (SP), the Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) and the Rastriya Janata Dal (RJD).

On the other hand, the BJP has been trying to woo Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati, Telgu Desam Party (TDP) supremo Chandrababu Naidu, AIADMK’s J Jayalalitha and also estranged Biju Janata Dal (BJD) in Orissa. The BJD snapped ties with the BJP-led National Democratic Front (NDA) on the eve of 15th

Lok Sabha elections.

The INC and the BJP will

be tempted to hold talks with those regional parties that will have the numbers to form the new government. But in some states they might find it very difficult to woo the potential allies. For instance, in Tamil Nadu, the INC and the DMK have been allies for the last few years and they jointly run the provincial government.

Though the combine has unitedly contested the parliamentary polls, the bonhomie might end if the AIADMK emerges as the single largest party. It might put the INC in a quandary if it had to bring the AIADMK into the fold of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA). Eventually, the Congress might have to part ways with the DMK. In that case the DMK-run state government’s fate will be in jeopardy.

In Uttar Pradesh, if the Congress succeeds to woo the SP, then BSP’s Mayawati will have no role to play in the UPA.

The SP and the BSP are arch-rivals in India’s most populous state.

Analysts believe that the BJP’s non-secular image is the Achilles heels for the saffron party.

“The BJP’s Hindutva agenda is the biggest hurdle for the party in forming the next government,” said psephologist Kumar. The INC also believes that if it emerges as the single largest party, then the Left parties will gravitate towards the UPA and help it form the next government.

The INC has reasons to believe so.

“Finally, the Communists and the Congress will come together to form a new government. The BJP is a communal force. Hence, its chances of leading the next government are slim,” said Rajrshi Raj Gupta, who teaches political science at the Jawaharlal Nehru University.

Of late, the Left parties, which withdrew support to the UPA government last year over the controversial Indo-US nuclear deal and fought on the plank of the Third Front, have toned down their rhetoric.

They hinted that they are ready to do business with the Congress.

The BJP believes that if it emerges as the single largest party, then it will be invited by the President to form the next government.