New Delhi: On Thursday evening, top leaders of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) got together in New Delhi to celebrate the 84th birthday of former Prime Minister and BJP leader Atal Behari Vajpayee. The leader who is suffering from indifferent health did not attend the event. But that hardly affected the enthusiasm of the gathering. They praised Vajpayee for his vision and leadership that made the non-Congress, non-Left coalition work.
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Now with Advani being projected by the BJP as its prime ministerial candidate, the unease among the coalition members was evident. Sharad Yadav, a former socialist who was recently appointed as the Convenor of NDA, wished Vajpayee was still around to guide them in the forthcoming Parliamentary elections. The JD(U) leader, whose party shares power with the BJP in Bihar said: “At this moment, all I would like to say is that, if he’s (Vajpayee) there then the dream we see for the NDA, under the leadership of LK Advani would be accomplished. Though I do not have a deep relationship with Advani, I know both Vajpayee and Advani and both complement each other. I want Vajpayee to be there and under his blessings we win”.
Besides the general elections, the non-BJP coalition partners in the NDA were also concerned about the state of their present relationship with the saffron party. For instance JD(U) in Bihar and Biju Janata Dal in Orissa are at logger heads with the local BJP units. But former editor of Organiser, Sheshadri Chari dismisses them as minor issues. He says, “NDA as a group has been intact and now under the leadership of Sharad Yadav, NDA now has a new Convener. We are working in the right direction. As far as issues (between the parties) are concerned they are absolutely local issues which crop up between any two parties”
The concern over Vajpayee’s absence raised by Sharad Yadav was, however, not lost on Advani. He quickly pointed out that he was a very close friend of Vajpayee implying that they took many decisions together.
But the BJP is taking no chances. It has already detailed senior leaders from the party who will keep in touch with coalition partners individually on strategic issues such as seat-sharing and sort out differences that may arise from time-to-time.