|Saturday, January 8, 2000,
faces hiccups in seat sharing
NEW DELHI, Jan 7 Hiccups regarding seat sharing between the Bharatiya Janata Party and its National Democratic Alliance (NDA) partners in the forthcoming Assembly elections in four states have already started. This was evident from two unrelated developments today concerning Haryana and Bihar.
A delegation of BJP leaders from Haryana today met the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee and the Union Home Minister, Mr L.K. Advani and expressed apprehension about the States dominant partner in the coalition government, The Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) not honouring the 55-35 seat sharing arrangement understood to have been hammered out under the aegis of the BJP General Secretary Narendra Modi before the Centre gave the green signal to Haryana Chief Minister Om Prakash Chautala to dissolve the Assembly.
The BJPs Bihar unit leaders led by Mr Sushil Modi also descended on the capital today after the Samata Party yesterday refused to merge with the Janata Dal (United). The differences between the two is expected to cast its shadow at the time of seat sharing between the BJP and its allies in Bihar.
A visit of the BJP delegation to the capital and its meeting with the Prime Minister and the Home Minister was ostensibly to raise the issue of the Sutlej-Yamuna Link canal and the non-availability of adequate electricity to the state, but party insiders maintained that the meeting was prompted by disturbing signals emanating from the INLD camp in the past few days.
The INLD patriarch, Mr Devi Lal, has reportedly suggested that the BJP should be given not more than 20 seats while the Haryana Chief Minister and party President, Mr Chautala, had unilaterally announced names of party candidates for the forthcoming elections.
The BJP delegation, which included the Haryana Legislature Party leader, Mr Ram Bilas Sharma, state party chief, Mr Om Parkash Grover, and party MPs Rattan Lal Kataria, Ram Chand Bheda, Kishan Singh Sangwan and Sudha Yadav, and Minister of State for Home, I.D. Swami, reportedly told the Prime Minister that the party should not yield to the dictat of the INLD.
It was pointed out that the INLD and the BJP combine had won all 10 seats in the last Lok Sabha elections solely due to the Vajpayee factor and the Prime Minister continued to be the unique selling point (USP) for both parties.
The delegation impressed upon the central leadership that the BJP had emerged as the main opposition to the Congress and no regional party in the state could hope to win without its cooperation. In this regard, the delegation members referred to the victory of the Haryana Vikas Party when it had a tie-up with the BJP and its fall after it parted ways with the BJP.
Mr Ram Bilas Sharma, however, when contacted by the TNS, said he was hopeful there would be no problems with the INLD on seat sharing.
On the meeting with the Prime Minister, he said the delegation had urged Mr Vajpayee to impress upon Punjab to speed up the completion of the SYL canal as farmers in southern Haryana were starved for water. He said Haryana did not want Punjabs share of water but was only insisting that the water flowing to Pakistan be given to it.
The BJP delegation also pointed out that Haryana during the past few days was not getting the increased 27 lakh units of electricity allotted to it by the Centre and this should be restored at least till the crops were ready for harvest.
The Prime Minister assured the delegation that he would look into their demands and find a solution after discussing the matter with the Chief Ministers of Haryana and Punjab. He said he would call a meeting of the two Chief Ministers soon to discuss the problem.
The discussions on Haryana apart, in a separate development members of the Bihar BJP unit met senior leaders of the party here to discuss the political situation in the state, especially in the backdrop of the Samata Party parting ways with the JD (U).
It was felt that in the absence of an understanding between the JD (U) and the Samata in Bihar, the BJPs task of having an understanding on seat sharing could become difficult.
J.P. Mathur, was however, hopeful that the differences
between the two parties would not cause problems in Bihar
and the BJP would talk to the two partners separately to
arrive at an amicable solution on seat sharing. He said
the BJP would make efforts to ensure a joint campaign by
the three parties.
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