2019 polls: Oppn leaders to meet in Delhi, move EC over VVPATs

File photo of Opposition leaders meeting.

New Delhi: Top Opposition leaders will meet in the national capital today to discuss the possibility of a non-NDA alliance staking claim to government formation and also move the Election Commission to press for their demand of tallying paper trail of votes (VVPATs) with electronic voting machine (EVM) figures.

According to sources, leaders of Opposition parties such as the Congress, TDP, Left parties, BSP, NCP and TMC will informally meet to discuss the way forward in case the NDA fails to reach the majority mark.

Ahmed Patel and Ghulam Nabi Azad of the Congress, Sharad Pawar of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), TDP’s Chandrababu Naidu, Satish Chandra Misra of the BSP, Sitaram Yechury of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), D Raja of the Communist Party of India (CPI) and Derek O’Brien of the TMC are expected to take part in Tuesday’s meeting among others.

Notwithstanding exit polls that have predicted a majority for the BJP-led NDA, the Opposition is going ahead with its strategy as most parties have trashed the forecast and claimed that the NDA would not get a majority in the Lok Sabha.

Opposition leaders are citing previous examples when exit polls were proved wrong, as also elsewhere in the world like the surprise result in Australia.

As part of his efforts to unite the Opposition, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister and TDP leader Naidu held a meeting on Monday with his West Bengal counterpart, Mamata Banerjee, at her Kolkata residence on forming a non-BJP government at the Centre in case of a hung Parliament.

Samajwadi Party (SP) chief Akhilesh Yadav also telephoned Mamata Monday and discussed the strategy of the Mahagatbandhan, the sources said.

Naidu has been moving around across the country and has held several rounds of discussions with top Opposition leaders in a bid to unite them and form an alliance to stake claim to form the next government in case the NDA falls short of the majority mark.

On Sunday, Naidu met UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and Congress chief Rahul Gandhi separately in New Delhi, besides NCP supremo Pawar.

Samajwadi Party leader Akhilesh and BSP chief Mayawati also held a meeting Monday and  discussed their strategy going forward.

However, in view of the exit polls, the Opposition has turned a bit cautious and decided not to hold any formal meetings.

Sources said the Opposition strategy was to procure letters of support from various parties and in case of a hung Parliament, to present it before the President to stake claim to form the government.

They added that the Opposition did not want to leave anything to chance and did not wish to waste any time in staking claim for government formation and, thus, was putting its house in order.

Opposition parties will also be meeting the Election Commission and demand tallying of VVPAT slips with EVM figures in an entire Assembly constituency in case a discrepancy is found in any polling booth.

The Supreme Court has asked the EC to tally the VVPAT slips with the EVM figures of five polling stations in each Assembly constituency across the country, which may delay the results.