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INDIA Bloc Meets as a Show of Unity

INDIA Bloc Meets as a Show of Unity

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Manas Dasgupta

NEW DELHI, June 1: With the last phase of polling on in 57 constituencies in seven states across the country and the union territory of Chandigarh, the leaders of the opposition INDIA bloc met in Delhi on Saturday to “devise“ a strategy” for the counting day on June 4 but ostensibly to keep the flock together amidst clashing interests.

The meeting as a show of unity among all the INDIA bloc members, was held at the residence of the Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge and with the exception of the Trinamool Congress, the ruling party in West Bengal, and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) of Jammu and Kashmir, the top leaders or senior representatives of all the bloc members were present at the meeting.

Ms Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress is not participating in view of the last phase of the Lok Sabha elections including the crucial seats of Kolkata are going to the polls on Saturday and relief operations for Cyclone Remal that passed through Bengal earlier this week.

Opposition leaders who attended the meeting included Sharad Pawar, Akhilesh Yadav, Tejashwi Yadav, Anil Desai, Sitaram Yechury, Arvind Kejriwal, Bhagwat Mann, Sanjay Singh and Raghav Chadha, Champai Soren, Kalpana Soren, T R Baalu, Farooq Abdullah, D Raja and Mukesh Sahani.

While the official reason cited for the meeting is to devise a strategy to ensure smooth counting at state and district levels, sources indicate the focus was on to keep the flock together as many of the regional parties may have conflicting interest with each other and with the Congress.

The point is crucial ahead of results in the event of the NDA winning by narrow margins, confided Congress leaders. The party is expecting the NDA to get no more than 260-270 seats, which leaves it short of majority mark by just a few seats. Swaraj India chief Yogendra Yadav has predicted no more than 270 seats for the NDA, which leaves it short of the majority mark by just two seats. In such an eventuality, every single member of the INDIA bloc would have to join hands to form a government at the centre.

But the alliance wants to stick together even if it does not have the numbers. In a post on X, ahead of the meeting, Mr Kharge said, “The fight is still not over, and the leaders and workers of all the parties are extremely alert… We have fought the Lok Sabha Elections 2024 with all our might and are confident of a positive outcome, as the people of India have supported us.”

The exit poll is expected this evening, and the Congress has refused to join in the discussions thereafter, drawing jeers from the BJP camp. While the Congress said it considers exit polls entirely avoidable, given the counting will take place within days, the BJP has called it a tacit acceptance of defeat.


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