As Modi snoops for new allies, Pranab readies for referee role

Despite the bravado expressed by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leadership of getting a majority on its own, its prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi in a television interview has indicated that he would need support beyond the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) parties to form a government at the Centre. His Man Friday Amit Shah reiterated his leader’s stand in a press briefing at Varanasi on Friday saying: ‘All parties are welcome to join NDA if they want to give their support for development of the country.’

The expression of interest in support from other parties by Shah came despite the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) leader Mayawati saying earlier in the day that she would not support a Modi-led government. Reacting to BSP leader Mayawati’s comments that there was no possibility of her party supporting BJP, Shah told reporters in Varanasi that ‘BJP does not believe in political untouchability.’ The statement is significant as it comes just a week ahead of the declaration of results.

President Mukherjee, who would have a decisive role in government formation in case of the none of the pre-poll formations getting to 272 mark, had completed all formalities for voting through postal ballot, thus making him the first head of the State to do so but he decided not to exercise his franchise keeping in tradition with his predecessors. ‘The President in order to express his neutrality in the political fray has decided not to cast his ballot,’ President’s press secretary Venu Rajamony said on Friday. 

The change of heart of the president is being attributed to the fact that his role would come under immense public scrutiny if none of the alliances manage to cross the half-way mark of 272 seats and thereafter the bargain for getting numbers for the seats would begin. With Modi throwing open the gates of the NDA to join ranks with him, the president would have to exercise caution and sagacity before inviting any individual to form government.    

Modi has said that despite the vitriolic poll campaign, he expected many of his present adversaries to support him. He claimed there was a difference between the politics of government formation and politics of poll campaign. While Mayawati and TMC leader Mamata Banerjee have rubbished the invitation, other ‘likely allies’ like the YSR Congress in Andhra Pradesh, Telugu Rashtra Sangha (TRS) in Telangana, Biju Janata Dal (BJD) in Odisha and AIADMK in Tamil Nadu have preferred to remain silent on the matter.

Would have sent Modi to jail had I been in Delhi: Mamata Banerjee

BERHAMPORE (WB): Mamata Banerjee on Friday attacked the Congress alleging it was 'cocooned in fear' and did not have the guts to act against the BJP and said had she been in Delhi she would have sent Narendra Modi to jail. ‘They (Congress) have no guts. It is a party cocooned in fear. They survive through understanding and play got-up matches and indulge in match-fixing. Not a single word against Narendra Modi. It (Congress) is in head over heels in love with Narendra Modi,’ Banerjee, the Trinamool Congress chief, told an election rally here in Murshidabad district. ‘Had I been in Delhi in place of Congress, I would have sent Narendra Modi to jail by tying a rope around his waist,’ she said hitting out again at the BJP prime ministerial candidate for his remark that illegal Bangladeshi immigrants would be sent packing after 16 May. ‘Had the Congress party initially exerted pressure on BJP, it would not have dared to talk so much now,’ Banerjee, the chief 
minister, said.

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