Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar yesterday stepped in as efforts for opposition unity again intensified ahead of the Lok Sabha election results today.
Pwar is in touch with several parties, including the Biju Janata Dal (BJD), the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS), and the YSR Congress, an NCP leader said.
“He is getting calls from leaders of all parties,” the leader said here.
Pawar is also in contact with the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam and Trinamool Congress, two other parties expected to get a large chunk of seats among the opposition parties.
In the event of a split verdict, the position taken by the BJD, the TRS, and the YSR Congress will be of crucial importance. The three parties seek to maintain equal distance from the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party.
Pawar is keen that these three parties back the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance if it is in a position to form the government.
But while the opposition looks at getting the numbers in case of a split verdict, it has several prime ministerial contenders. Both Bahujan ASamaj Party chief Mayawati and Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee are seen to have ambitions for the top job.
Mayawati, in fact, has not hidden her ambitions, announcing that she will fight the Lok Sabha elections if the need so arises. She has also said she will give the best national government if she gets an opportunity. She has the backing of the Samajwadi Party, with which it fought the elections in Uttar Pradesh.
Much would depend on the numbers each party musters.
Pawar is a seasoned politician and his voice will carry weight if the opposition has to choose a prime ministerial candidate.
Telugu Desam Party chief Chandrababu Naidu has also been criss-crossing state capitals to bring the opposition parties together to prevent a BJP-led government. He has also been vocal in raising apprehensions about the use of voting machines.
The Congress is also keen to take the lead in the formation of an alternative government and has kept a petition ready to be given to President Ram Nath Kovind if the situation so warrants.
Meanwhile, the YSR Congress Party, whose role in government formation could be crucial in case of a hung parliament, made it clear that it was not averse to supporting any party or grouping, provided its condition of special status to Andhra Pradesh was met.
“If the NDA gets an absolute majority as projected by exit polls, then there is no need for our support. But if somebody falls short and wants our support, we can consider,” Mekapati Rajamohan Reddy, senior leader of the YSRCP and a member of the outgoing Lok Sabha, told IANS.
He made it clear that his party “can support anybody who gives special status to Andhra Pradesh,” a long-pending demand of Jaganmohan Reddy.
Rajamohan Reddy said his party chief has been pressing for special status to Andhra Pradesh, after the state was split and Telangana was carved out.
“We have tried but not succeeded yet,” he noted.
“If the BJP falls short, it will have to accept our demand for a special status,” the MP from Nellore said.
“If Congress gives us the special status, we can support it too,” he said, adding that its president Rahul Gandhi has already made a promise on this.
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