United Progressive Alliance (UPA) Chairperson Sonia Gandhi, who took a back seat for much of this election season, on Monday stepped in to bring non-NDA parties together as Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister and TDP chief N Chandrababu Naidu briefed the Congress on his talk with several parties.
Naidu met Congress president Rahul Gandhi for the second time in two days on Monday. He also met Sonia, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief chief Sharad Pawar and CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury and apprised them of the details of his conversations with Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati and Samajwadi Party (SP) supremo Akhilesh Yadav on Saturday. The TDP chief also met Loktantrik Janata Dal leader Sharad Yadav in the national capital on Saturday. He has also met TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee and AAP national convener Arvind Kejriwal. Sources said while Yadav is keen that all the parties come together and form a post-poll coalition to prevent the BJP from forming the government, Mayawati appeared cautious. Yechury too is said to be of the view that concrete decisions can be taken only after the election results are out.
Exit Poll Results 2019: Check state-wise Lok Sabha election exit poll results
Sources insisted that contentious issues like who would lead the government in the event of the NDA not getting a majority have still not come to the discussion table. It is learnt that many parties are not comfortable with the idea of the Congress leading if it does not perform spectacularly well. Mayawati could be in Delhi on Monday and sources said a meeting between her and Sonia cannot be ruled out.
Meanwhile, top Congress leaders met to take stock of the situation. Sonia held a closed door meeting with top party leaders on Saturday evening to assess the party’s prospects and the strategy in the event of a hung verdict.
While Naidu continued his efforts to unite Opposition parties and the Congress remained in touch with many of these parties, exit poll projections telecasted by TV channels at the end of polling painted a grim picture for their prospects. Almost all the exit polls predicted that the NDA would either be close to or cross the halfway mark.
Congress leaders in private rubbished the exit poll projections, arguing that the Opposition would perform much better and spoke about a “surprise in store” for everybody. Many Opposition leaders argued that exit poll projections have gone wrong in the past.