- PM Modi met old allies and new, and potential partners today in Delhi
- PM met Nitish Kumar for the first time after joining hands in Bihar
- BJP is in power on its own or along with allies in 18 out of 29 states
PM Modi has, since the morning, met three Chief Ministers - Tamil Nadu's E Palaniswami, Mehbooba Mufti from Jammu and Kashmir and Bihar's Nitish Kumar. He also met a fourth, Trivendra Singh Rawat, of his party the BJP.
Mr Rawat is the Chief Minister of Uttarakhand, which the BJP wrested from the Congress earlier this year in a set of elections that saw it add four to its kitty of states that it now rules on its own or along with allies. The total count right now is 18 out of 29 states.
PM Modi's meeting with his party's newest ally Nitish Kumar was their first after the Bihar Chief Minister dissolved his alliance with Lalu Yadav and the Congress, resigning dramatically last month, only to take oath again hours later at the head of a new government, this time with the BJP as partner. BJP chief Amit Shah too met Mr Kumar separately; Mr Kumar doubles as the chief of his party, the Janata Dal United.
The new alliance fetches the government the valuable support of 10 JDU lawmakers in the Rajya Sabha, where the government is in a minority and often struggles to push legislation.
There is speculation that the BJP could be looking at adding another partner in Tamil Nadu's ruling AIADMK. The BJP is said to be encouraging the party's two factions to come together after months of estrangement following the death of its powerful leader and chief minister J Jayalalithaa in December last year.
Mr Palaniswami, who leads one factions, said cautiously after his meeting with the Prime Minister, "I hope there will be a merger soon, but there are no talks yet." O Pannerselvam, who leads the other faction is also in Delhi to oath ceremony and has reportedly sought to meet the Prime Minister too.
At the very least, the BJP wants the AIADMK to reunite and be strengthened in Tamil Nadu as the party has in the past supported it on key policies and legislation and is seen as friendly to the Centre.
PM Modi's meeting with Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehboob Mufti revolved around a legal challenge related to the state's special status. The alliance with the Ms Mufti's People's Democratic Party or PDP brought the BJP to power for the first time in J&K, but the partnership has been turbulent owing to the parties' opposite stands on several key issues like Article 370, which grants the state its autonomous status and Article 35-A, which bars outsiders from owning property in Jammu and Kashmir.