NEW DELHI: Two days ahead of the Lok Sabha elections verdict, the ruling NDA put up a show of strength at a dinner hosted by BJP chief Amit Shah to thank all allies, buoyed as it was by the exit polls predicting its easy victory.
In the rival camp, there was apprehension and unease, with the Congress fearing the BJP’s ‘dirty tricks department’ was back at work to do a Goa in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Karnataka.
Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath claimed the BJP had approached at least 10 Congress MLAs in his state to defect, so as to pull the rug from under his feet.
The exit poll results got on senior Karnataka Congress MLA Roshan Baig’s nerves, as he indulged in name-calling, labelling the party’s state unit president Dinesh Gundu Rao ‘a flop show’ and AICC general secretary K C Venugopal a ‘buffoon’.
At the NDA meet, there were smiles all around as alliance leaders like JD(U)’s Nitish Kumar, Shiv Sena’s Uddhav Thackeray and Shiromani Akali Dal patriarch Parkash Singh Badal took turns to greet Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The BJP described it as an informal get-together without agenda, with allies merely sharing their views on the just- concluded elections.
“I congratulate ‘Team Modi Sarkar’ for their hard work and remarkable achievements in the last five years. Let’s keep this momentum going for a ‘New India’ under the leadership of PM Modi,” tweeted Shah after the meeting.
In Bhopal, Kamal Nath’s cabinet colleagues Pradyumn Singh Tomar and P C Sharma alleged that offers of Rs 25 to 50 crore had been made to each MLA to defect as the Opposition fears its leaders will have to face the music in Vyapam and e-tender scams.
“On the contrary, 25 BJP MLAs are in contact with the Congress and are ready to jump ship if the NDA is defeated at the Centre,” Sharma claimed.
Nath, however, indicated a quick cabinet reshuffle to accommodate the grumpy elements, including independents and BSP-SP MLAs to save his government.
A worried UPA and leaders of other likeminded parties met in New Delhi to strategise on the post-results scenario.
They also sought to pressure the Election Commission of India to first count the Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail slips, though the prime minister saw the controversy surrounding Electronic Voting Machines (EVM) as needless. Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, too, called the EVM fears bogus.
Allies express faith in Modi's leadership
The NDA adopted a resolution expressing faith in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s leadership, Union minister Rajnath Singh informed reporters after the dinner meeting.
Leaders of 36 allies attended the meeting, while three others who couldn’t make it, sent in letters supporting the leadership of Modi, he added.
Minister Ram Vilas Paswan quoted Modi as having said that his focus was not winning elections but on helping people improve their quality of life.
“Our alliance represents India’s diversity and our agenda is India’s progress. We are best suited to address regional aspirations and enhance national progress,” Modi tweeted after the dinner meeting.