Even as the exit polls predicted a majority for the ruling NDA in the Lok Sabha elections, the Opposition camp is convinced that the BJP-led coalition will fall short of numbers, due to which they are making an effort to cobble up an alternative.
Ahead of the declaration of actual results on May 23, TDP supremo and Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu has been reaching out to various non-BJP parties as part of efforts to stitch up a coalition that could form a government at the Centre if the NDA fails to cross the majority mark of 272 seats in the 543-member Lok Sabha.
Despite the exit polls giving a clear majority to the NDA, Naidu on Monday met Trinamool Congress supremo and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee in Kolkata.
Earlier, he had meet UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi, Congress President Rahul Gandhi, NCP chief Sharad Pawar, CPI-M leader Sitaram Yechury, SP President Akhilesh Yadav, BSP chief Mayawati and CPI’s Sudhakar Reddy and D. Raja over the last few days.
A leader of the Opposition camp said the meetings that Naidu is holding with various Opposition leaders were “informal consultations” to assess the situation.
On Sunday night, Naidu rubbished the exit polls, saying such predictions have “time and again” failed to catch the pulse of the people.
“While undoubtedly TDP govt will be formed in AP, we are confident that non-BJP parties will form a non-BJP govt at the center (sic),” Naidu had tweeted.
Banerjee also slammed the exit polls, calling them “gossip”.
“I don’t trust Exit Poll gossip. The game plan is to manipulate or replace thousands of EVMs through this gossip. I appeal to all Opposition parties to be united, strong and bold. We will fight this battle together,” she had tweeted.
Raja, while refusing to believe the exit polls, told IANS on Monday that the “exact” poll results will have to be seen.
“Exit polls are not exact polls, as Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu has said,” he said.
The CPI leader said the Left will decide on its role only after the actual results are declared.
“The idea is to get all secular, democratic parties together… Time has come to remove the BJP from power,” Raja, who met Naidu on Saturday last, said.
“Despite claims by the BJP that it will get full majority, the party will not have the numbers to form the government.
“There is a situation for all of us to get together and get our act together without loss of time to be in a position to provide an alternative to the NDA,” he asserted.
On the question of who would be the Prime Minister of such an alliance of regional parties, he said it will be decided through consensus after the election results are declared.
The Communist leader said the parties at regional or state level, despite their differences, are all convinced about the need to oust the BJP and “save the Constitution and save the secular democracy”.
Regional parties like the DMK, the TDP, the RJD and the TMC are already committed against the BJP and so are the SP and the BSP, he said.
Raja said he is in touch with Akhilesh Yadav and he agrees that the BJP should go.
Talking about the Congress, he said the Left was critical of Rahul Gandhi contesting from Wayanad Lok Sabha seat in Kerala against the CPI-M but indicated that it now tends to ignore that.
“Congress too was not fully convinced about Rahul contesting from there (Wayanad). That is why he (Rahul) said he will not utter a word against the Left,” he said.
Regarding the BJD, the TRS and the YSRCP, he said they will decide their stand after the results.
Asked what Naidu approaching leaders of various parties means, Raja said the TDP chief is using his earlier experience (of United Front days) as well as his equation with them.
Naidu was the convener of the United Front which had formed the government at the Centre in 1996 after the Congress failed to get a majority. The Congress had extended its support from outside.
Asked whether the 1996 experiment would be repeated, he said that was a different situation as it was the Congress which had been defeated then.
On who would be the PM candidate of such an alliance, Raja said: “This question is not under discussion as of now. We are not ruling out anybody. It is to be discussed when the numbers come before us. It will be decided on the basis of consensus.”
When pointed out that Mayawati has already made clear her desire to be the PM, he said: “What anyone may say individually does not matter.”
Asked to comment on efforts by KCR to build a “Federal Front”, the Communist leader frowned upon this idea.
“What is a Federal Front? CPM, CPI are for federalism. Congress is not saying it is opposed to federalism. Federal Front is a misnomer. It can’t be a regional front of three-four parties. Then call it a Regional Front,” he said.
“We want communal forces out of power. We can’t lose time. We will have to act.”