Even as its leaders claim that the BJP and its allies will get a majority in the Lok Sabha, the party seems to be looking for potential allies. BJP's prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi has said that making disparaging remarks about governments run by regional parties in different states did not pre-empt the possibility of allying with them later.
His aide Amit Shah, who handles the election campaign in Uttar Pradesh, a state crucial to the BJP's electoral plans, said Friday that the party did not believe in political "untouchability". Political experts say this is a sign that the Bharatiya Janata Party's juggernaut has not rolled decisively enough to propel it to a clear win in the 545-seat Lok Sabha.
"It is very clear they will not get a majority. That is why they are searching for allies," Nisar ul Haq, a professor of political science at the Jamia Millia Islamia university here, told IANS. Experts have good reasons to believe so.
From the beginning of the election campaign, it was clear the BJP's hopes rested on three things. First was a good showing in states it rules. This was the easiest part although not without its complexities. The BJP expects a rich haul in Gujarat, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. Of these, it is likely the party will get the desired result in the first two.
Among states it didn't rule, Uttar Pradesh (80 Lok Sabha seats) and Bihar (40) were central to the BJP's plans of capturing power in New Delhi. In Maharashtra, with 48 seats, the party has a good chance of winning a good number of seats with its ally Shiv Sena but the Congress-NCP alliance is not a pushover.
The BJP deputed Amit Shah to Uttar Pradesh in a bid to take the party's tally there to at least close to, if not higher than, the 57 seats it won in 1998, leading to a BJP-led government in the country. In Uttar Pradesh, while the BJP is expected to benefit from the communal polarization following the Muzaffarnagar riots, it is not certain it will repeat the 1998 performance. The party has only 10 MPs from UP now.
Muslims reportedly disenchanted with the Samajwadi Party may back the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) this time. In Bihar, the party whisked away Ram Vilas Paswan away from the Congress-RJD combine and hoped to benefit from a split in Muslim votes. But reports suggest that Rashtriya Janata Dal leader Lalu Prasad may have put paid to BJP's hopes by cementing his traditional Muslim-Yadav combine. The BJP won 12 seats in Bihar in 2009.
It is in this light that BJP leaders are talking about possible post-poll alliances. But are there takers for Modi? BSP chief Mayawati has refused any support to a BJP-led alliance. West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress leader Mamata Banerjee has put her foot down when it comes to Modi. Political analyst Dipankar Gupta says if Modi failed to secure a majority, the party's old guard -- now edged out by Modi -- may assert themselves.
"If Modi fails to take the BJP beyond 180-190 seats, the BJP may still form a government but with a different prime ministerial candidate," Gupta told IANS. Added another analyst, Paranjoy Guha Thakurta, told IANS: "If Modi fails to get the numbers, Sushma Swaraj may be favoured as prime minister by the old guard. L.K. Advani will support her. She is likely to be backed by Murli Manohar Joshi too." The BJP strategy was to create a "Modi wave" through a concerted media campaign never been seen before in this country. The dominant feeling is that it has worked.
Unless the BJP gets close to the majority mark, it will have to lean on others, in particular Tamil Nadu Chief Minister and AIADMK leader Jayaram Jayalalithaa, who until recently was counted as a Modi friend. That will still leave out another regional politician -- Biju Janata Dal's Naveen Patnaik. Will he have a rethink vis-a-vis BJP? Will others come aboard?
The afternoon of May 16 will unravel all these puzzles.