On the eve of counting, the Congress is exuding the quiet confidence of emerging the single largest party and combine to which other groups would throng after the results.
“Paer nahi padenge (We will not fall at anyone’s feet to join us),” said a leader, daring fence sitters to support the “communal” BJP.
The Congress’s confidence was also based on the “fact” that the other two fronts were anti-BJP — the Left-backed Third Front and the RJD-SP-LJP Fourth Front. “The secular credentials of parties will be known after the results,” said spokesman Kapil Sibal.
On Friday, Congress leaders called on Sonia Gandhi to update her. Among them was Ghulam Nabi Azad, in-charge of Tamil Nadu, Orissa and Karnataka where the party may look for allies.
Congress leaders denied that scouting for post-poll allies has started, alluding to reports that Kamal Nath spoke to BJD’s Naveen Patnaik and Pranab Mukherjee discussed government formation with the SP. “Let the results be out first,” said Sibal to persistent queries.
But Congressmen see potential supporters, for instance, in Tamil Nadu’s PMK, MDMK, AIADMK (if DMK quits the UPA) or the Praja Rajyam in Andhra Pradesh.
Janardhan Dwivedi listed the broad reasons why the Congress would emerge victorious.
“There is no anti-incumbency against the government, Manmohan Singh or Congress leadership. We fulfilled our manifesto and CMP promises, initiated schemes for Dalits, adivasis, Muslims and backwards and sought to address needs of health, education and employment. While the meltdown hit countries hard, our growth rate has not been less than 6%. Further, the youth see their future secure in our policies.”
(Inputs from Aurangzeb Naqshbandi)