Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Thursday that the BJP is open to alliances and cherished its old friends, in a hint that it was looking to strengthen the NDA in Tamil Nadu ahead the Lok Sabha elections.
Slamming Congress for its "arrogance" and slighting regional parties, Modi said that the party was haughty enough to say that they would spring a "surprise" despite having none to rub shoulders with in Uttar Pradesh.
In an interaction with party booth-level workers from five districts in Tamil Nadu through video conferencing, he recalled the "successful coalition politics" ushered in by former Prime Minister, the late Atal Bihari Vajpayee in the 1990s and said the BJP's doors were "always open".
"...20 years ago the visionary leader Atal ji brought in a new culture in Indian politics, that of successful coalition politics.
He gave utmost importance to regional aspirations... BJP has followed the way Atal ji has shown us," Modi said.
The Prime Minister, in the fourth interaction with party workers in the state, was responding to questions from a worker on whether the BJP would ally with AIADMK, DMK or Tamil superstar Rajinikanth, who is yet to form his political party.
The BJP had fought the 2014 Lok Sabha elections in Tamil Nadu leading a six-party alliance comprising smaller parties, including the DMDK, the PMK and Vaiko-led MDMK, and won two of the 39 seats — one each by the saffron party and PMK.
However, all five parties snapped ties with the BJP later. The Prime Minister said a strong NDA was "an article of faith for us".
"It is not a compulsion. Even when the BJP won a strong majority on its own, we preferred to run the government with our allies. We cherish our old friends and our doors are always open for parties," Modi said.
However, Congress had "ill-treated" regional parties, he said, adding "What Atal ji did was in direct contrast to the Congress which has never cared for regional aspirations.