Mamata to skip non-BJP opposition meet next week?

Trinamool supremo Mamata Banerjee, a key player in the anti-Narendra Modi alliance is expected to opt out of the meeting of opposition leaders planned by the Congress after the conclusion of the seven-phase Lok Sabha elections. PTI file photo

Trinamool supremo Mamata Banerjee, a key player in the anti-Narendra Modi alliance is expected to opt out of the meeting of opposition leaders planned by the Congress after the conclusion of the seven-phase Lok Sabha elections.

The mega opposition meeting, tentatively scheduled for May 21, is expected to be a show of strength by the non-NDA political parties and also a message to President Ram Nath Kovind to consider them as a cohesive group against the ruling BJP-led alliance.

However, a senior Congress leader admitted that Mamata may not like to divulge her cards till after the declaration of Lok Sabha results and may stay away from any meeting with other leaders before May 23.

BSP supremo Mayawati, who is contesting the elections in alliance with arch-rival Samajwadi Party, is expected to drive a tough bargain in the government formation exercise.

Mayawati has already indicated that she could contest a Lok Sabha bypoll, should a situation arise, a clear indication towards her prime ministerial ambitions. Though Mamata has never spoken publicly about aiming for the top post, her party leaders have been vocal about their desire to see her as prime minister.

Congress leaders believe that the BJP-led NDA will fall short of the numbers after the results of the Lok Sabha elections are declared on May 23. Though they concede that the BJP may emerge as the single-largest party, the opposition would want the President to consider the numbers in favour of a grouping when he considers extending an invitation to form the next government.

Though the precedent has been to extend the invite to the single-largest party, opposition leaders argue that if they are able to demonstrate the numbers – a minimum of 272 – it would be imperative on the President to invite them.

“Out endeavour would be to demonstrate the numbers, complete with signed letters of support from political parties and a parade of members supporting us,” a senior leader said.

Informal parleys have already begun with Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu having met Congress President Rahul Gandhi and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee last week.

Senior Congress leaders are also in touch with their counterparts in the CPI(M) and other Left parties.

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