With Prime Minister Narendra Modi focused on taking the oath as PM again immediately after the Lok Sabha results, as he strongly indicated on Friday at the press conference of BJP president Amit Shah, the best the Opposition parties may pray for is that the BJP doesn’t emerge as the largest party in Parliament.
But since this can only be known on May 23, the political moves animating the various efforts in the Opposition camp are aimed at roping in regional parties that are neither NDA nor UPA to not back the BJP’s bid for power if it turns out that the BJP is actually the party with the most seats, even if this number is at a modest level.
Being the largest party makes for a stronger claim than any other scenario if the election throws up a hung Parliament. But President Ram Nath Kovind’s moves will be watched closely. Mechanically following the rulebook has its pitfalls. In 1996, Atal Bihari Vajpayee was sworn in on this basis but the PM-designate bowed out in 13 days. He couldn't get other parties to support him.
This is the move the Opposition will try to replicate, unless the Congress can beat the BJP to being the largest party in the Lok Sabha. TDP leader and Andhra Pradesh CM N. Chandrababu Naidu has lobbied with top Opposition players in UP, Maharashtra and West Bengal for this. UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi’s emissaries are out to persuade the BJD and YSR Congress along the same lines. It will be interesting to see how so many parties are coordinated in a compressed timeframe.