Exactly on this day, five years back, the Congress shocked the NDA, pipping it to the post in the Lok Sabha polls. Will it be able to pull it off this year too?
“Yes, we can. Yes, we will.” That is the refrain from the Congress camp.
In the backdrop of this confidence, the Congress core group, which includes Prime Min-ister Manmohan Singh, Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Union Minister Pranab Mukherjee, met on Wednesday to take stock of the party’s performance in the five-phase election.
“We are expecting around 220-225 seats and are sure that automatically we will get new allies,” said a Congress leader after the meeting.
Over the last two days, party leaders have claimed that the Congress will get about 180 seats on its own and allies will bring in another 45-50. That figure itself, they feel, will attract support from members of the Third Front and other parties that haven’t joined a camp yet. The Left, they felt would either lend support or stay neutral.
However, a more conservative estimate puts the party tally between 150-160. In such a scenario, it would be touch-and-go in the race for the single largest party this year.
The big question facing the Congress is which parties would help it reach the magic figure of 272?
For one, it would mop up the Indepen-dents and one or two member parties whose numbers could collectively bring about 12 to 24 seats.
For the rest, the Congress will either have to match the irreconciliables or make some tough choices. For instance, will it be the Left or the Trinamool in West Bengal? The DMK or the AIADMK in Tamil Nadu? Lalu-Paswan or Nitish Kumar in Bihar?
BJP: 217 for NDA
The BJP’s own survey put the party’s tally at 166 and that of the NDA at 217, differing with the results of the surveys, shown by the TV channels at the end of the fifth and final phase of polling.
The party’s survey, which was undertaken by psephologist G.V.L. Narasimha Rao, put the Congress’ tally at 139 and its allies at 35, taking the UPA’s tally to 214.
Dismissing the thumbs up given to the Congress by the TV channels, Rao briefed senior BJP leaders including party’s prime minister candidate L.K. Advani and chief strategist Arun Jaitely about his findings.
According to the BJP’s survey, the Left would get 37. It won 61 it won in 2004.
In the key state of Uttar Pradesh, the Mayawati-led BSP would win between 20 to 22 seats, while the Samajwadi Party would get no more than 20. On the other hand, the BJP would win 22 seats on its own and its ally, Rashtriya Lok Dal, would get five seats.
Among other keys states, the BJP survey put the Congress’ tally in Andhra Pradesh at 18, while the TDP and its allies would get 20. The TRS was expected to win five seats.
In Maharashtra, the BJP-Shiv Sena combine would get 27 of the 48 seats. The NCP and the Congress would get 20 each, Rao said.
In Assam, where the TV channels predicted a win for the Congress, the BJP survey put the saffron party’s tally at five and that of its ally, Asom Gana Parishad, at four.
As for other parties who are seen as game changers in this election, the AIADMK and its allies were expected to win 28 seats in Tamil Nadu. The DMK and its ally, Congress, would get 10 seats. The BJP too was projected to win a single seat, possibly Ramanathapuram.