Debating India

TAMIL NADU

BJP to go it alone in Tamil Nadu, Pondy

Wednesday 4 May 2005

Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI: The Bharatiya Janata Party has decided to go it alone in the Assembly elections due in Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry next year. This was decided on Tuesday at a meeting of party general secretaries, chaired by the party president, L.K. Advani.

"We are going to take the South very seriously in the elections due in Tamil Nadu, Pondicherry and Kerala next year," the former party president, Venkaiah Naidu, who was given the overall charge of the three Southern States, told The Hindu on Tuesday soon after the meeting. "You can be certain that we will not look for allies in Tamil Nadu," he said.

"While going it alone may be a compulsion for the party which has broken its links with the AIADMK (and the DMK is part of the United Progressive Alliance), the BJP is going to test the waters on its own strength," Mr. Naidu said. On May 25 and 26 a brainstorming session is to be held in Kochi to plan the strategy for the Southern States. The meeting will be attended by Mr. Naidu and four general secretaries, Pramod Mahajan, Arun Jaitley, Ananth Kumar and Sanjay Joshi. The meeting is expected to take note of the recent political developments in Kerala and see how best the BJP can exploit the split in the Congress.

While Mr. Jaitley has been given charge of the Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry assembly elections next year, he will no longer be involved in the Assam election as earlier announced. Mr. Kumar will look after Kerala.

However, it is Mr. Mahajan who has been put in command of Assam, politically the most important State from the point of view of the party. A senior party leader said that the leadership changed its mind about joint responsibility for Mr. Mahajan and Mr. Jaitley in Assam as that may not have worked.

In West Bengal, the BJP general secretary, who will try to put the party house in order, will be Rajnath Singh, who has recently proven in Jharkhand his ability to turn around a difficult situation. On May 10, the party’s Central Election Committee will meet to finalise candidates for the coming byelections.

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