Oppn meet to stake claim

Oppn meet to stake claim
Rahul Gandhi and Chandrababu Naidu addressing the media in Delhi.
NEW DELHI, MAY 8 (AGENCIES) | Publish Date: 5/8/2019 11:43:27 AM IST

The opposition parties are planning to call a meeting on May 21 to fine-tune their strategy on how to stake claim to form the government at the Centre in case the mandate is fractured. Andhra Pradesh chief minister Chandrababu Naidu, sources told News18, met Congress chief Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday morning, asking him to call a meeting of all opposition parties two days before the result is announced so that all opposition leaders can be on the same page. 

According to sources, the joint opposition is likely to waste no time and will rush to President Ram Nath Kovind as soon as the election result is declared to ask him to invite them first to form the government, never mind the tally or how far they are from the majority mark.

They would go to him immediately with the request that the single largest party, which most opinion polls predicted would be the BJP, is not invited first in case of a hung house. 

The Constitution confers discretionary powers on the President of India in extending invite for the formation of the government in case of a fractured mandate.

Twenty-one political parties, who together had also moved the Supreme Court over increasing verification of voter slips, are planning to also send a letter to the President that will say that once the result is out, they would present letters of support to form a government.

So far, polling in five phases are over out of seven and the counting of votes will be on May 23. The discretionary powers on whom to invite first to stake a claim has led to controversy in the past, and the opposition does not want to take any chances this time, sources said. 

In 1996, the then President Shankar Dayal Sharma invited Atal Bihari Vajpayee to form the government when BJP emerged as the single largest party. Vajpayee had to resign after he failed to prove majority.

In Goa and Manipur also, the Governor had ignored the claims of Congress as the single largest party and extended an invite to the BJP. In both cases, the BJP claimed support of a majority MLAs in the house. 

Last year in Karnataka, however, the Governor invited BS Yeddyurappa, the leader of the single largest party to form the government despite Congress and JDS joining hands to keep BJP out of power.

Taking a lesson from the Karnataka episode, opposition parties were till March hoping to stitch a formal umbrella coalition at the national level to emerge as the single largest pre-poll alliance, but that failed to materialise, forcing them to regroup and rejig strategy now.


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