Congress upbeat, plans Oppn meet after May 19

AICC General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra. File photo

Half-way through the Lok Sabha elections, Congress is quietly upbeat about its performance and has pinned hopes on the support of fence sitters in case of a hung Parliament.

Senior Congress leaders were optimistic about a positive result in favour of the “secular” alliance on May 23 – the day of the counting of votes of the Lok Sabha elections – and have begun preparations for keeping the non-NDA parties together.

A meeting of opposition parties is expected to be held on May 21, two days ahead of the Lok Sabha election results, to make an assessment of the possible post-poll scenarios and discuss a common minimum programme for governance. Congress Core Group comprising senior leaders was meeting on Friday night to assess the emerging situation.

A section of the Opposition expected fence-sitters such as Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) and YSR Congress to support the non-NDA formation and efforts were afoot to reach out to their respective leaders.

A senior opposition leader pointed out that YSR Congress banked on Christians for support and it would be difficult for the outfit to back the BJP.

Cong in driver's seat

Seeking to keep itself in the driver's seat in a post-poll scenario, Congress on Friday chose to ignore stinging criticism by BSP supremo Mayawati and SP President Akhilesh Yadav of AICC General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra's remarks.

Priyanka had claimed that Congress had fielded candidates in some Lok Sabha seats in Uttar Pradesh to cut into the BJP vote share and benefit the SP-BSP alliance.

“Since we have to sit together on May 23, we would not like to make any comment on this matter,” senior Congress leader Anand Sharma told reporters here.

Congress leaders are hopeful that President Ram Nath Kovind will invite the largest coalition to form the government in case of a hung parliament.

“It is an election between the UPA and the NDA and not between the Congress and the BJP,” a senior Congress leader said.

So far, 373 Lok Sabha seats have gone to polls in the four phases of the general elections that began on April 11. Elections to 169 Lok Sabha seats will be held in three phases on May 6, May 12 and May 19.

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