After exit polls, political players brace for strategy sessions

May 14th, 2009 - 2:01 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata Party New Delhi, May 14 (IANS) A day after televisions projected a badly fractured Lok Sabha, leading contenders for power discussed ways Thursday to woo new allies and estranged partners in a bid to cobble a majority in parliament.
Leaders of the ruling Congress, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the so-called Third Front held informal discussions and prepared to hold strategy sessions in the run up to the eagerly awaited vote count Saturday.

Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, touted as the BJP’s poster boy, flew into New Delhi to add strength to the party’s confidence levels.

The BJP’s core group is to meet at the residence of its prime ministerial candidate L.K. Advani and follow it up with talks with smaller groups that are expected to play a key role in government formation.

Modi explained to reporters why he was in New Delhi: “We are here for political reasons and to discuss the post-poll scenario. It is no secret.”

The Congress will also meet later Thursday at party president Sonia Gandhi’s residence.

Party sources said the meeting will be attended by Digvijay Singh, Commerce Minister Kamal Nath, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee, Defence Minister A.K. Antony, Ahmed Patel and Janardhan Dwivedi.

Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi, who was the star campaigner in the staggered April-May election that ended Wednesday, is also expected to join the discussions.

“We will take stock of where we have done well and also chart out a future course once the results are out Saturday,” said a party leader.

Exit polls by television channels Wednesday predicted that the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) would finish just marginally ahead of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA). The Third Front, made up of Communists and regional parties, is tipped to win around 100 seats.

Leaders of smaller and regional parties are aware that they will end up playing a vital role in deciding who will get to rule India the next five years.

Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav said: “We’ll sit together, talk and discuss everything. Our future course of action will be decided only after May 16 (Saturday).”

Communist Party of India-Marxist general secretary Prakash Karat has repeatedly said that the Third Front would not back either the Congress or the BJP.

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