NATIONAL

BJP readying for polls

Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI: The softening of the United Progressive Alliance government’s stand on the nuclear deal may have lifted the shadow of a mid-term Lok Sabha election, but the Bharatiya Janata Party will nevertheless go ahead with preparations for an early poll.

Senior party leaders have said that they cannot trust the UPA. Party leader Venkaiah Naidu suggested that the Government’s latest stance on the nuclear deal may be part of a plan to put the main Opposition off-guard. And the former Union Minister, Ravi Shankar Prasad, added here on Saturday that the BJP president, Rajnath Singh, and the Leader of the Opposition, L.K. Advani, will go ahead with their plans to tour various parts of the country to ensure that party state units go full throttle ahead with streamlining the party’s election machine.

It has not gone unnoticed by the BJP that the Congress has recently revamped its party set-up; it has inducted Rahul Gandhi as one of the general secretaries; and Congress president Sonia Gandhi has begun making election-like speeches as at Jhajhar in Haryana last Sunday.

The BJP has already begun the exercise to induct new allies into the National Democratic Alliance fold. Mr. Prasad had a long meeting with AIADMK leader Jayalalithaa in a bid to coax the party into the NDA; last month the BJP re-worked its relationship with the Shiv Sena that had soured after the Sena voted for the UPA candidate Pratibha Patil in the July Presidential poll ignoring the BJP’s pleas to vote for Bhairon Singh Shekhawat; and more recently, general secretary Vinay Katiyar rushed to Bhubaneswar to smooth out irritants that had surfaced in the BJP’s ties with the Biju Janata Dal.

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