BJP clinches seat-sharing deal with 35 allies for polls

The BJP continued to sign on partners in major states like Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu, which have 48 and 39 Lok Sabha seats respectively

Chennai, New Delhi: The BJP, with more than 35 allies in the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), continued to sign on partners in major states like Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu, which have 48 and 39 Lok Sabha seats respectively, even as it got an unexpected gift in Jharkhand. On Tuesday, the party struck an alliance with the Pattal Makkal Katchi (PMK) of Dr S. Ramadoss in Tamil Nadu, where it hopes to make a big splash in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.

The PMK, a Vanniyar community-dominated party with significant influence in northern districts of the state, will fight 10 seats as part of the alliance in Tamil Nadu, said Annamalai, TS BJP president, at a joint press briefing with PMK president and Rajya Sabha MP Dr Anbumani Ramadoss.

The pact prompted Prime Minister Narendra Modi to declare that the NDA has found new energy to work, as he hailed the seniority and experience of Dr Ramadoss.

In Delhi, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena leader Raj Thackeray met Union home minister Amit Shah on Tuesday in an indication that the BJP was looking to ally with him for the Lok Sabha polls to boost its alliance in the western state.

Senior MNS leader Bala Nandgaonkar said in Mumbai that the talks on Lok Sabha polls between the two leaders were “positive”, and details will be shared in a day or two.

The meeting drew sharp reactions from the Maha Vikas Aghadi camp, with the Congress accusing the BJP of “betraying” north Indians.

Shiv Sena (UBT) leader Uddhav Thackeray accused the BJP of trying to “steal a Thackeray” to win elections, underlining that the brand Thackeray is indispensable in the state.

Senior NCP leader and state minister Chhagan Bhujbal, who belongs to the Ajit Pawar camp, said if MNS joins the BJP-led 'Mahayuti', it will increase the strength of the ruling alliance.

Raj Thackeray, who arrived in Delhi on Monday, was joined by BJP national general secretary Vinod Tawde when he met Shah earlier in the day.

In Ranchi, in a a blow to the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM), Sita Soren, three-term MLA and sister-in-law of former chief minister Hemant Soren, quit the party on Tuesday and joined the BJP in the present of general secretary Tawde and Jharkhand poll in-charge Laxmikant Bajpai.

Sita Soren tendered her resignation from the JMM, claiming that she was being neglected and isolated.

A rift in the Soren family had surfaced after she had openly opposed any move to make Kalpana Soren, wife of Hemant Soren, who is behind bars in connection with a money laundering case linked to an alleged land scam, the chief minister.

In her resignation letter addressed to JMM supremo and her father-in-law, Shibu Soren, Sita Soren stated that following the demise of her husband, the party failed to provide adequate support to her and her family.

There was a jolt for the BJP, however, when Union minister Pashupati Kumar Paras resigned from the Narendra Modi Cabinet, accusing the BJP of doing “injustice” with his Rashtriya Lok Janshakti Party (RLJP) by excluding it from the seat-sharing deal with allies for the Lok Sabha polls in Bihar.

Paras's announcement came at a press conference a day after the BJP-led NDA announced its seat-sharing pact and gave five seats to the Chirag Paswan-led LJP (Ram Vilas), ignoring his faction's claims.

Paras made brief remarks at the press conference about his resignation and did not elaborate about his future plans. The only ally in the Union Cabinet headed by Narendra Modi, he called the Prime Minister a “big leader” before expressing his displeasure over the treatment meted out to him.

A BJP leader indicated that the party has been willing to accommodate Paras respectably in some other manner but it cannot accommodate other MPs of his party. However, Paras has been keen to fight polls, opening the prospect of a tie-up with opposition parties.

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