In a day of rapid developments (on Tuesday), National Democratic Alliance convener and Defence Minister George Fernandes met Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee to discuss the results of the (Andhra Pradesh) election. Middle managers in the BJP were engaged all day in trying to convince the party leadership that the NDA should get a fighting chance to form even a minority government and add numbers to the alliance later.
But the question is how the alliance will make up for the Telugu Desam's rout. Rather than depend on small parties that render the management of alliances difficult, the feeling among the party's middle managers is that it is the biggies in Uttar Pradesh that the NDA should target -- the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party.
However, the BSP has let it be known that it will seek a price for support: it will like a strong position by the BJP on Mulayam Singh Yadav. The BJP has translated this to mean the BSP will eventually like the Union government to dismiss the Samajwadi Party-led government in Uttar Pradesh.
The BSP, sources said, would find it untenable to support the NDA with the prime minister making statements that there was no ideological difference between the BJP and Samajwadi Party. However, the BJP said it would wait to see which of the two parties got the larger number before making its move.
The other possible breakaways are the Pattali Makkal Katchi and the Marulamarachi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, which are uncomfortable in a Congress alliance. Fernandes is likely to make contact with these groups.
Fernandes made a quick visit to Mumbai to call on Sharad Pawar to discuss the possibility of a tie-up. The problem is that the Shiv Sena has said it will walk out of the alliance if Pawar is part of it.
The Congress, by contrast, has put out that it is not going to be part of this frenzied activity. It held a strategy meeting that decided to stay away from "official contact" with the "undecided", until it got some idea of whether it was in the running to form a government.