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BJP prepares ground for being invited first
Faraz Ahmad
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 11
The BJP is preparing the ground for being invited first by President Pratibha Patil to form the government, either as the single largest party or as the single largest pre-poll alliance.

With the poll campaign for the fifth and final phase of the general election having come to an end this evening and less than a week to go for the election results, scheduled for May 16, the BJP is preparing to have the first go at forming the next government at the Centre. The party is keeping its options open about how it will stake the claim, depending on whether the BJP emerges as the single largest party or altenatively the NDA emerges as the single largest pre-poll alliance.

BJP spokesman Ravi Shankar Prasad recalled the past precedent under which whenever there was a hung House, the President invited the single largest party first. He mentioned the case of 1989 when though the Congress lost the elections, yet since it emerged as the single largest party, the then President R Venkataraman invited Rajiv Gandhi first and only when he declined, VP Singh was invited to form the government.

Going by the same precedent in 1996, Shankar Dayal Sharma invited Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Vajpayee was sworn in. Vajpayee resigned after 13 days when he failed to prove his majority in the House and only then HD Deve Gowda was invited to form the United Front government.

Adhereing to the same principle in 1998, KR Narayanan invited Vajpayee again because the BJP with 182 members emerged as the single largest party. The NDA was formed after Vajpayee was invited to form the government in 1998. But even if the BJP fails to emerge as the single largest party, they have an alternate alibi ready to stake the claim to be invited first, indicated party sources. “The NDA is a pre-poll alliance and in the event of a hung House when no party has clear numbers, it is incumbent upon the President to invite the NDA if it emerges as the largest formation,” claimed a senior party leader.

The calculation is based on the assumption that the UPA has disintegrated with Mulayam Singh Yadav’s SP, Lalu Prasad’s RJD and Ram Vilas Paswan’s LJP having fought elections against the UPA. “In the race for numbers, they cannot claim to be part of the UPA after the poll results, since they fought against each other,” remarked the BJP leader. To jack up their numbers, the BJP is also counting on the TRS, whose leader K Chandrashekhar Rao attended the NDA rally in Ludhiana yesterday. “He attended our rally before the poll, so naturally he is our pre-poll ally,” said Ravi Shankar Prasad.

Once the NDA is invited to form the government and their prime ministerial candidate LK Advani is sworn in, the party is confident that many others like the Jayalalithaa-led AIADMK and her Tamil allies, expected to win around 30 seats, Mayawati’s BSP and Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress will walk over to their side providing them the necessary numbers to prove their majority in the 15th Lok Sabha. In due course, others like N Chandrababu Naidu’s TDP may also follow suit later, hoped party sources.

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