Sonia meets Pranab for ‘strategy’ session

The BJP’s estimates for the election results seemed in sync with the exit polls while the Congress, even though it seemed resigned to a loss after a decade, was not entirely despondent.

Congress president Sonia Gandhi went to Rashtrapati Bhavan on Tuesday evening for what was described as a “strategy meeting” with President Pranab Mukherjee.

Although the Congress seemed resigned to sitting in the Opposition, only the actual election results will decide whether the party will make a definitive move to block the BJP from assuming power.

The BJP’s chief strategist Amit Shah expected the National Democratic Alliance to score a comfortable majority in the Lok Sabha with 290-305 seats. However, he said, the high expectations do not mean closing the doors to new allies. “We are keeping the door open for any party, even those with just one MP,” said Shah.

In Uttar Pradesh, the most critical State, with as many as 80 Lok Sabha seats, Shah’s calculation was that the BJP would win 50-55 seats.

His prediction for Maharashtra is more than 35 seats for the NDA (BJP+Shiv Sena) and in Bihar, he did not spell out a number but described the election as “miraculous” for the BJP.

In a remark that could be construed as a warning for Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, Shah said: “If regional parties perform badly in States where they are ruling, they have lost the moral right to govern.”

Defending Rahul

In the meantime, the Congress was ready with a defence for Rahul Gandhi in case the exit poll predictions for a “worst ever performance” come true.

Union Minister for Urban Development Kamal Nath rejected suggestions that a poor show will be a reflection on Rahul Gandhi's leadership.

“Election results are a reflection on people’s perception of the Government functioning... Rahul Gandhi was never part of the Government,” Nath said.

No drastic change

Sources said no drastic change is expected in the Congress’s organisational structure.

Sonia Gandhi will remain the party president with Rahul Gandhi assuming more responsibility, even taking over the Leader of the Opposition role in the Lok Sabha if the verdict is clearly in favour of the National Democratic Alliance.

There is no immediate indication of Priyanka Gandhi Vadra getting more active in the Congress party’s affairs.

(This article was published on May 13, 2014)
XThese are links to The Hindu Business Line suggested by Outbrain, which may or may not be relevant to the other content on this page. You can read Outbrain's privacy and cookie policy here.