Oppn has a plan ready if BJP falls short of 272

A view of the Parliment House ahead of the Lok Sabha elections results in New Delhi, Wednesday, May 22, 2019. PTI

Opposition parties will approach President Ram Nath Kovind on Thursday afternoon itself urging him not to call the BJP for forming the government if it falls short of the majority mark and instead extend an invitation to them arguing that the mandate is for the formation of an alternative dispensation.

To pre-empt an invitation to the BJP, which they think would end up as the single-largest party, letters from at least 22 Opposition parties will reach the President’s desk by around 4 pm in case the trends of counting showed a split verdict and the ruling party won’t be able to cross the majority mark.

While Congress-led UPA coalition parties are likely to send a joint letter, parties like the Samajwadi Party, BSP, CPM and the CPI among others who are not officially part of the alliance will send separate letters to the President.

Sources said a draft of the letter has been prepared and shared with all “like-minded” parties, which would say that they had fought the BJP in the elections and the verdict is for the formation of an alternative government.

They would argue that they are for the alternative grouping and the President should consider this grouping while extending an invitation for forming the government.

These letters will be followed by a detailed joint resolution signed by all parties, including the non-UPA parties, which will be sent to the President later in the day after top leaders converge in the national capital. Leaders like BSP chief Mayawati, SP’s Akhilesh Yadav and others are likely to fly down to the capital on Thursday evening itself in case the results are in their favour.

Sources said they expect the TRS, YSR Congress and the BJD, which have so far not officially aligned with either the ruling NDA or the Opposition, to join them in case there is a scenario favourable for such a grouping.

Top Opposition leaders like Congress’ Ahmed Patel, CPM’s Sitaram Yechury, TDP’s Ram Mohan Rao and NCP’s Praful Patel among others held meetings in the national capital to fine-tune the strategy. TDP chief N Chandrababu Naidu also interacted with these leaders through teleconference while NCP supremo Sharad Pawar held telephonic discussions with them.

During the meetings, sources said, drafts of the letter were prepared by Congress’ Abhishek Singhvi and NCP’s Majid Memon and were circulated. Pawar, who is in touch with the TRS, YSR Congress and the BJD, was also consulted.

It was also decided that the Opposition leaders will be in constant touch during the counting of votes from Thursday morning, analysing the emerging political situation. The leaders are likely to arrive in the capital later in the evening and commence further meetings on the way forward, including selection of a leader of the grouping.

“We have a plan for the day. We will execute it once we see trend. We have fought the BJP and if it does not have majority, then it is clear that the verdict is for the formation of an alternative government,” a senior leader said.

However, the Opposition leaders expressed apprehension that there could be violence during the counting and they need to be alert. “The government has issued an alert saying there are chances of violence. This is unusual. We fear that the BJP will indulge in violence if they find that they are losing the elections,” he said.

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