INDIA bloc meet to discuss June 4 preparations

“The meeting will be about the counting day preparations and to keep vigilant about Form 17C,” said a leader.
Opposition INDIA bloc’s March 31 rally at the Ramlila Maidan
Opposition INDIA bloc’s March 31 rally at the Ramlila MaidanFile photo

NEW DELHI: As the seventh and final phase of the Lok Sabha elections concludes on Saturday, top leaders of Opposition alliance INDIA bloc will hold a meeting in the afternoon, according to Congress sources.

According to a senior Congress leader, the meeting has been convened to discuss the preparations for the counting day on June 4 and the need for the alliance’s leaders and workers to stay alert.

“The meeting will be about the counting day preparations and to keep vigilant about Form 17C,” said a leader.

On May 22, the Congress had raised concerns over the huge gap between the real-time voter turnout data and the final figures released by the Election Commission. Calling it “unprecedented”, Congress leader Pawan Khera said the difference is around 1.7 crore votes.

On the final day of campaigning on Thursday, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi shared a video on X, urging party supporters to keep a keen eye on polling booths and strong rooms “till the last moment”.

On Thursday, Congress chief Mallikarjun Kharge said that the INDIA bloc meeting is being held for “our own sake”, to train people and to give them information.

“This is an informal meeting. We will only discuss what kind of preparation we should have on the day of counting and how our people should be alert, whether it is about EVMs or the Form 17C is used... Just for our own sake, we are holding this meeting to train our people and to give them information,” he said.

Congress general secretary (organisation) KC Venugopal too said the meeting is called to discuss the counting preparations. He said the party has told its state units to be alert about Form 17C.

“Therefore, we have to have a review on that day about the Form 17C collections and the counting day preparations. Nothing else is going to be discussed. We have informed major political party leaders for all,” he said.

Meanwhile, Trinamool Congress chief and West Bengal Mamata Banerjee has already said she will not attend the meeting on June 1 due to the scheduled Lok Sabha elections and post cyclone relief work. The Congress leadership too defended Banerjee, saying that she is busy with the polls.

The Congress on Friday exuded confidence that the Opposition alliance will get a “clear and decisive” mandate on June 4, when the results of the Lok Sabha polls are announced and claimed that many NDA constituents will be queuing up to join the INDIA bloc.

Addressing the media, AICC general secretary Jairam Ramesh claimed that his party would have a strong performance in Rajasthan, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Telangana, in which it had been wiped out in the 2019 polls.

Cong, BJP spar over exit poll debates

The Congress has decided to refrain from TV debates on the exit polls, saying it does not want to indulge in speculation and slugfest for TRP. In a statement, Congress spokesperson Pawan Khera said, “The results will be out on June 4. Prior to that, we do not see any reason to indulge in speculation and slugfest for TRP.” Home Minister Amit Shah said that the Congress has all along been claiming that they are going to win the elections, but when the exit polls are going to be out they are boycotting the exercise saying that it is meaningless. “Exit polls are taking place for a long time and they have also been taking part in that. This time they are not able to explain the reason for their imminent failure in the election, hence they are boycotting it now,” Shah said. BJP chief JP Nadda also criticised the Congress decision.

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