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BJP ready to give seats to JD(U) and Apna Dal

Sunday 11 March 2007, by VYAS*Neena

In three-way U.P. alliance, BJP may give JD(U) 12-15 seats

Effort is to protect winnable seats State leaders persuaded to go with Apna Dal

NEW DELHI: The Bharatiya Janata Party may be prepared to give away up to 55 seats to the Janata Dal (United) and the Apna Dal in the Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections.

While the JD (U) is a partner in the National Democratic Alliance, the Apna Dal, which commands the loyalty of a section of Kurmis, will be a new entrant. Senior BJP leaders are confident that the alliance with the Apna Dal will be finalised in the next few days.

Leaders of the three parties met here, where seat-to-seat discussions took place. The BJP was represented by Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, central party coordinator for seat sharing in the State; the JD(U) by its president Sharad Yadav and the Apna Dal by its chief Sonelal Patel.

Apparently several hours of discussions took place between Mr. Naqvi and Mr. Patel on Friday too and a couple of days earlier there was a meeting between BJP president Rajnath Singh and Mr. Patel. It seems the BJP may be prepared to part with 12-15 seats to the JD (U) and 35-40 seats to the Apna Dal. There are more than 400 seats in the Assembly.

As one party leader said, the BJP’s effort is to protect the constituencies, where it has a good chance of winning, rather than make the number of seats it contests a matter of prestige.

On Sunday, the BJP’s State leadership will be briefed here on the talks with the JD (U) and the Apna Dal. Apparently, there was some resistance from the State-level leaders to going with the Apna Dal. However, during his recent visit to Lucknow, Mr. Singh convinced them that the alliance would help the BJP. Recently, Mr. Venkaiah Naidu, Mr. Naqvi and Mr. Bal Apte were also in Lucknow to "persuade" the State leaders to accept the tie-up with the Apna Dal.

Caste calculations

The central leadership seems to be of the view that the alliance could attract sizable sections of the "other backward castes," with the Kurmi leader Patel and the Lodh leader Kalyan Singh (former BJP Chief Minister) in it. One senior BJP politician said this could add as much as four per cent to the BJP’s support base. In the 2002 Assembly elections, Mr. Kalyan Singh was not with the BJP (he had then floated a separate outfit and tied up with the Samajwadi Party).

See online : The Hindu

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