Is INDIA bloc going to form the next govt? Kharge drops a hint

The Congress president hinted at the possibility of 'new partners' in the INDIA bloc, as the present formation is short by around 40 seats

Sonia Gandhi and Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge (photo: Vipin/NH)
Sonia Gandhi and Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge (photo: Vipin/NH)

Mohd Asim Khan

Is INDIA bloc going to form the next government even if, in its current composition, it is some 40 seats short of the majority mark? When media persons put this question to Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge, he dropped a big hint that has piqued the curiosity of political observers.

Kharge said the future course of action will be decided by the INDIA alliance partners and “new partners who will join”.

Media reports say the INDIA bloc leaders are in touch with both Janata Dal (U) chief Nitish Kumar and Telugu Desam Party president Chandrababu Naidu.  

With the BJP struggling at 240 seats — over 30 seats short of the single-majority mark — and the INDIA bloc having made huge strides to touch 230 seats in the late trends, the obvious question floating around is, who will form the next government?

Although the BJP has emerged as the largest party, and with its major partners in the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) — TDP and JD(U) — just crossing the majority mark of 272, it may be the first choice to be invited to form the government.

However, speculation is rife on whether the NDA will remain intact in case the BJP falls short of a majority on its own. It’s an open secret that almost nobody — not even the majority of senior BJP leaders — like the way M/S Modi and Shah function.

It was reported that Chandrababu Naidu was arm-twisted by the duo into joining the NDA. The same is true for Nitish Kumar, who suddenly switched sides even though he had nothing to complain about in the INDIA bloc.

As Rahul Gandhi said in response to a media query, the BJP leaders don’t respect anybody. “The BJP doesn’t respect people. It is wrong and offensive to call him a steno or PA. You should not do that,” Gandhi said when a reporter asked him for his comments on the social media banter that Rahul’s 'PA (personal assistant)' Kishori Lal Sharma had defeated Union minister Smriti Irani in Amethi.

He said Kishori Lal has been working in Amethi for the Congress party for the past 40 years. “The BJP didn’t understand that Kishori Lal Sharma has a bonding with Amethi and its people. He was bound to win. And I congratulate him on his spectacular victory,” Gandhi added.

Responding to a separate question, Gandhi underlined that the Congress respects its partners and workers. “We respect our alliance partners. We don’t say anything to the media without consulting them. So we have a meeting tomorrow (5 June) where we will discuss all these things (whether to form a government and if yes, how).”

Kharge’s reply, though, gave a hint that something is definitely cooking. “If we disclose everything, Modi ji will get alerted. Tomorrow you will know,” the Congress chief half-jokingly told a reporter who persisted with the question.

Watch this space for more updates on this front.

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