Opposition to make quick claim if NDA tally falls short

The Congress and some other opposition parties are preparing to stake claim to form the next government as early as May 23 in a bid to pre-empt any invitation to the BJP from Rashtrapati Bhavan if the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) falls short of the majority mark of 272.

Last week, senior Congress leaders including president Rahul Gandhi, treasurer Ahmed Patel, and senior leader Abhishek Singhvi held a marathon meeting at Gandhi’s residence to chalk out detailed plan for results day, two senior leader’s privy to the developments told HT.

In accordance with the discussions, some drafts have been prepared by the party’s legal team — led by Singhvi — on how different opposition parties can express their support for a non-NDA government.

A senior Congress leader said: “In the possibility of a hung Parliament, we may communicate to President [Ram Nath] Kovind at the earliest opportunity. If the NDA falls short of majority, we may replicate the Karnataka model and stake claim. The final call, however, will be taken by UPA [United Progressive Alliance] chief Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi.”

The party wants to leave no stone unturned in exploring all legal chances to form a government even if the BJP gets more seats than it but the NDA is short of a majority.

This plan to come together to stake a claim has already been discussed with select “friendly” leaders, including Andhra Pradesh chief minister Chandrababu Naidu, CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury, Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav, and BSP supremo Mayawati. The Congress has started reaching out to fence-sitters such as the BJD and TRS through senior leader Kamal Nath and NCP chief Sharad Pawar.

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