THAT the NDA, despite some jolts to the BJP, has emerged stronger after the results of the four state elections is not in doubt. The bottomline is that the alliance or its individual constituents now have two more state governments in Orissa and Haryana while a third in Bihar, despite early trends indicating a hung assembly, looked within the realm of pos-sibility. So why isnt the BJP celebrating? The answer came from Prime Minster Vajpayee himself. In his initial reactions, the PM insisted on TV that he wasnt dis-appointed since the coalition per se had done pretty well. But he hastened to add that the less-than expected performance of the BJP itself needs to be examined.
As party vice-president J.P. Mathurthe lone leader holding fort at the partys Delhi headquarters on Fridaytold Outlook : "As a party, it has been a disappoint-ing result for us." Adds he: "What is happening to us in Bihar is a repeat of the disaster in Karnataka in the 1999 Lok Sabha polls, thanks to the problems with our allies. No lessons have been learnt. If after such a strong anti Laloo sentiment the NDA cannot manage a clear majority, we have only ourselves to blame." In fact, he said, if the NDA constituents had gone it on their own and come together post poll the BJP would have done much better and maybe "all of us put together would have managed a good majority". The squabble over seats took their tollin Haryana, it was Chautalas rebels who did them in.