Lok Sabha election 2019: Nervy opposition parties attempt a huddle after exit poll predictions
Even as over 21 leaders of opposition parties are expected to meet EC officials over their suspicion on EVM manipulation, Amit Shah will host a dinner for NDA leaders on Tuesday (May 21).
New Delhi: An overwhelming majority of exit polls on Sunday predicted BJP-led NDA to storm back to power with commanding ease, prompting several opposition parties to reach out to one another a day later on Monday. With fingers possibly crossed, many opposition leaders chose to either downplay the predictions, question EVMs, or both.
Chandrababu Naidu was one of the most active of all non-NDA political leaders in the day and he held a press conference in which he renewed his allegations against EVMs. Reiterating his demand for VVPATs to be counted, he even questioned the intent of Election Commission of India. The Telegu Desam Party chief then made way to Kolkata where he met with Mamata Banerjee and it was eventually decided that Trinamool Congress would join several other opposition parties - 21 in all - in meeting EC officials over their suspicions regarding EVM manipulations.
Mamata and the TMC have been at the forefront of alleging EC bias and possible EVM manipulations throughout Lok Sabha election 2019. Possibly spooked by several exit polls predicting hearty numbers for BJP in West Bengal, Mamata had already termed the surveys as 'gossip.' On Monday, she received Naidu warmly and even discussed possible post-poll scenarios with Akhilesh Yadav. The SP chief is learnt to have called the West Bengal CM as well as held a meeting with Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati. Exit polls have been largely divided in predicting how the BJP vs SP-BSP battle may play out in India's most populous state which has 80 parliamentary seats. Leaders of SP, BSP and even RJD are expected to join the opposition delegation that will meet EC officials at 3pm on Tuesday.
Apart from putting their focus on meeting with EC officials, several opposition leaders have also blatantly questioned exit poll predictions. Sharad Pawar of the Nationalist Congress Party claimed that the predictions have made the common man panic at the prospect of NDA returning to power even if the actual results would be greatly different. (Full report here)
Sharad Yadav, who contested from Madhepura seat in Bihar as a Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) candidate, also chose to ridicule the predictions which largely predict the BJP-JDU alliance to prevail in Bihar. (Full report here)
Congress' Shashi Tharoor took to Twitter and borrowed from elections in other countries to claim that Sunday's exit polls were wrong. (Full report here)
A number of leaders from Tharoor's party will also join the opposition delegation at EC headquarters although party leader Mallikarjun Kharge downplayed an alliance with or backing to a possible 'Third Front.' "I do not want to react on third front. We're only one front. Rahul Gandhi will take a decision on what is to be done. Sonia Gandhi ji has already called a meeting. Therefore, that doesn't arise as far as me and my party is concerned," he told reporters on Monday. The 'Third Front' refers to a possible grouping of non-NDA, non-UPA political parties who may have a key role to play in case a majority of exit polls are proven wrong and counting day on Thursday throws up a hung Parliament.
The possibility of a hung Parliament, however, is something the BJP has been outrightly - and confidently - rejecting throughout. Bolstered by exit poll predictions, the party appears more keen on cementing its bond within the NDA fold. Party president Amit Shah will host a dinner for NDA leaders on Tuesday, two days before counting. The Union Council of Ministers is also likely to meet on the same day. (Full report here)
Even as contrasting images were seen in NDA and opposition camps throughout Monday, there were only scenes of jubilation in Mumbai's Dalal Street. Sensex vaulted 1,422 points on exit poll predictions of an NDA win while investor wealth soared by Rs 5.33 lakh crore.
With two days left - Tuesday and Wednesday - before counting of votes, parties across the political landscape of the country are likely to continue their varied posturings.