Jayalalitha set to support Modi’s NDA

New Delhi: The BJP-led NDAmay get strengthened at the Centre with the possibility of Jayalalithaa’s AIADMK joining the ruling alliance to support the government from outside. While the move is at a preliminary stage, BJP sources are not ruling out the chances of a tie-up with the Tamil Nadu party, which has 39 MPs in Lok Sabhaand 12 members in Rajya Sabha and could help with the passage of legislations like the GST bill.

Jayalalithaa is expected to be in Delhi and meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi later this month and her visit should lead to clarity on the type of equation she would like to have with NDA.

What is already clear is that she will not join the government. AIADMK sources pleaded ignorance about the matter, but they are not expected to know until the party supremo lets them in.

AIADMK’s joining the NDA will only formalise an arrangement where it has scrupulously stayed away from joining forces with Congress and Left. One of the occupants of the middle ground that separates NDA from Congress and Left, it has often helped the government, although indirectly and by avoiding taking positions.

Modi, who was invited by Jayalalithaa for her swearing-in five years ago, at a time even when BJP’s full-scale allies like Nitish Kumar were not comfortable embracing him in public, had signalled his posture towards the AIADMK boss by appointing her loyalist M Thambidurai Lok Sabha deputy speaker in defiance of Congress’s claim.

Political circles, both here and in Chennai, said there were a number of factors which could impel her to get AIADMK move away from the position of professed neutrality. Observers said she would need money to fulfil her poll promises and a friendly regime at the Centre would help. Also, while Jayalalithaa defied the see-saw pattern of Tamil Nadu politics, her victory this time round was more on points. A stronger opposition led by Congress ally DMK could also be a nudge for AIADMK to move closer towards NDA.

She has wiggle room for such manoeuvres too. For, unlike in West Bengal , where Muslims constitute one-third of the electorate, the minority community has a low presence in Tamil Nadu.

…but Akalis hint at quitting alliance

Chandigarh: Former Union minister Sukhdev Dhindsa on Friday set the cat among the pigeons by saying he does not rule out Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and BJP contesting the 2017 assembly elections in Punjab separately, calling the present scenario of a three-cornered fight with AAP a tough proposition.

However, he added that such a “friendly fight” would only be to ensure that both parties gained and not because there were any issues in the alliance.

As per the BJP-SAD alliance stitched together in 1997, Akalis contest 94 of the 117 seats and leave the rest to its saffron ally.

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