New Delhi: With JD(U) out of the BJP-led alliance, Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal is likely to be the new NDA convenor and be given the task of persuading other parties to join the opposition grouping ahead of the 2014 elections.
BJP sources said today that Badal, 85, may be named the NDA convenor, a post that fell vacant after JD(U) walked out of the NDA. JD(U) president Sharad Yadav was the NDA convenor.
The post of NDA convenor had been with the JD(U) since the inception of the alliance. George Fernandes had played a key role as the convenor in winning over new parties to the fold by famously announcing that one cannot be stuck with the Babri mosque issue and should move ahead.
Fernandes had helped BJP shed the "political untouchable" tag with his secular image.
Badal enjoys a lot of goodwill among leaders of various parties and this may help the NDA increase its strength. However, BJP is now keen on winning more seats in the next Lok Sabha elections on its own and then look for post-poll allies.
There were reports that Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray could be the NDA convenor but BJP sources said Badal is a more likely choice.
"Uddhav and Shiv Sena are too right-wing to convince other parties to join the NDA. Moreover, we do not want to close our options on Raj Thackeray-led MNS joining the alliance which Uddhav is strongly opposed to," a BJP leader said, preferring anonymity.
Being a Sikh, Badal also represents the minority community which helps NDA present a more liberal face.
A senior BJP leader said if they manage to win above 170 seats and are ahead of the Congress by atleast 40 seats or above under the leadership of new election campaign committee chief Narendra Modi then winning new allies will not be difficult.
"BJP becomes secular the moment it crosses the 180-seat mark," a party leader said, indicating that if the party is in a position to form the government several parties may be keen to join the NDA.
A decision on the convenor is likely to be taken soon. With just three parties in the NDA, the alliance is not spoilt for a choice for this post and it is likely to go to Badal.