While confident of emerging as the biggest party in the Lok Sabha polls, the Bharatiya Janata Party is banking not only on the popularity of its prime ministerial nominee Narendra Modi but also on gains from its “28 allies” across the country.
The party hopes to score around 200 on its own and another 35 to 45 coming from existing allies.
"Once we have these numbers, there will be several more regional parties willing to join us," said a party functionary who did not want to be named. On the BJP's radar are either the AIADMK or the DMK from Tamil Nadu, BJD from Orissa, and INLD from Haryana, YSR Congress and TRS from Andhra Pradesh as potential post-poll allies.
The 28 groupings that support the BJP now are more for demonstrative effect, though the party would not openly admit that. “There are so far 28 allies with the BJP and the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) will come to power with more than 350 seats,” vice-president Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said. The growing number of allies, particularly in the South and the Northeast, is being bandied about by the party as an evidence of Mr. Modi’s “leadership being accepted.” “The BJP and Mr. Modi do not need such parties at the moment. These alliances are just to alter his image and show him as a man of consensus and to kill the impression that he is dictatorial. The number of alliances in itself is being used to show that he is reasonably conciliatory and even avuncular,” said Prof. Dipankar Gupta, professor and director, Centre for Public Affairs and Critical Theory, Shiv Nadar University.
These parties are hoping to ride on the perceived popularity of Mr Modi, BJP leaders say, and they admit that the party will need post-poll alliances.