While counting of votes is still a fortnight away and 118 Lok Sabha seats are still to go to the polls, opposition parties have begun strategising for the post-verdict scenario and possibilities. And on the discussion table is a possible meeting with President Ram Nath Kovind to urge him against inviting the single-largest party for government formation in the event of a splintered verdict.
The assessment in the Opposition camp is that the BJP may emerge as the single-largest party but could be well short of numbers and unable to form the government even with the help of present NDA allies.
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In such a situation, they want to deny the saffron party the first shot at proving its strength in the House.
While discussions, both formal and informal, have started, the opposition parties are likely to wait until the exit poll results emerge after the last-phase polling on May 19, as that will be the first indication of which way the wind is blowing.
Spadework for first invite from President
The spadework for dealing with the situation after May 23 has begun in the Opposition camp. Given that there was no national alliance in the run-up to the elections, the parties are trying to project a cohesive picture even before announcement of the results so that they can mount public pressure on the choice of who gets the first shot at government formation in the event of a hung House.
Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu, whose Telugu Desam Party (TDP) and the Congress had fought against each other in the state, met Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday to discuss the post-election possibilities. He, along with Left and Congress leaders, was in the Supreme Court on Tuesday to attend the hearing on the VVPAT petition, filed by 21 opposition parties.
After his meeting with Rahul, the TDP chief left for West Bengal, where he will campaign for Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress, which is fighting the Lok Sabha polls against the Left and the Congress in the state and is facing a stiffer challenge from the BJP.
Senior Left leaders Sitaram Yechury of the CPI(M) and D Raja (CPI) also had a meeting with senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel over the weekend. Plans by some of the opposition parties, including the Congress, to draw up a common minimum programme (CMP) in the run-up to the elections had come a cropper. The 21 parties, however, remained together in approaching the Supreme Court on the VVPAT issue.
The idea behind the CMP was to project it as a proxy for a pre-election alliance in the event of a hung verdict, but it never saw the light of the day.
Naidu did not speak to the media after his meeting with Rahul. Sources said their discussion veered around the VVPAT issue and the post-election scenario.
Leaders of opposition parties may meet on May 21, two days before the counting and as many days after the last votes are cast. By then, they will have a much clearer picture and the benefit of exit polls to chalk out their strategy, leaders said.