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BJP shuts Mamata Banerjee door, J Jayalalithaa can still walk in

Tuesday, 29 April 2014 - 8:45am IST | Place: New Delhi | Agency: dna

The BJP is reluctant to relegate Tamil Nadu chief minister Jayalalithaa's AIADMK to the enemy camp just as yet even as it has given up hope on West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee's Trinamool Congress being a potential ally.

From the camaraderie between chief ministers Narendra Modi and Banerjee a year ago over "filling potholes" in West Bengal to the no-holds-barred verbal duel, the relations between the two parties have taken a bitter turn. BJP leaders who had refrained from taking on Banerjee, who was at some point seen as a potential post-poll ally, have dropped their inhibitions in castigating her party.

"The TMC is rattled by Modi's rallies," is how BJP spokesperson Nirmala Sitharaman responded to the Trinamool Congress' diatribe. She put parties like TMC and SP, which were targeting Modi, in the same category, alleging they were joining hands with the Congress.

However, when asked if AIADMK supremo J Jayalalithaa, who has also been attacking BJP, was also part of this team, Sitharaman categorically said, "I did not name her."

Jayalalithaa attacked the BJP for the first time just before Modi was to address a rally in Chennai earlier this month. The BJP, which has formed a six-party alliance in the state, dismissed this as the "usual rhetoric at election time".

Apparently, while Jayalalithaa is still in the BJP's list of potential allies, it has no such sentiments towards TMC, which has to face an election in 2016 in West Bengal, which has more than 25 per cent Muslim voters.

So far, a mere non-entity in West Bengal's politics, the BJP is hoping to gain ground at least in terms of vote share. BJP sources said it was this fear that was worrying the TMC, which was so far comfortable in its fight against the Left.

While the BJP's central leadership had refrained from attacking Banerjee, its state unit was against such a strategy as the TMC had shown no inclination to get close to the NDA even in a post-poll scenario.

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