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INDIA Bloc+? Congress May Send Feelers To Chandrababu Naidu, Nitish Kumar

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The Congress will speak to Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and Telugu Desam Party chief Chandrababu Naidu — both erstwhile allies — to explore options for government formation, senior leaders of the party said today. INDIA bloc ally Uddhav Thackeray was the first to go public, saying the Congress intends to talk to both leaders. Senior Congress leader Salman Khurshid was more circumspect. “We will work towards getting all alliance partners and other to form a stable government,” he said.

The possibility opens up due to the narrow gap between the projected numbers of the NDA and the INDIA Block.

Trends at 10 pm indicate that NDA is likely to get 20-odd seats over the majority mark of 272 seats. Mr Kumar’s Janata Dal United and Mr Naidu’s Telugu Desam Party can together add 28 seats to the tally.

A switch in sides is likely to take the INDIA bloc numbers from 232 to 260 — where the NDA numbers will drop without the two key allies. It will leave both short of 12 seats, where Independents are expected to help.

The INDIA bloc is holding a meeting tomorrow where this and other related issues are expected to be discussed.

Convention dictates that the President invite the party or group that crosses the majority mark to form government.

As allies, though, both Mr Kumar and Mr Naidu have a spotty record. Mr Kumar has acquired something of a reputation for his frequent change of sides — five times over the last decade, the last one, from the INDIA alliance to the BJP, in February.

Mr Naidu, who started out by being a part of NDA, had walked out of the alliance ahead of the 2019 election, only to join back ahead of the current one.

Congress sources told NDTV that the mandate is against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union home minister Amit Shah. “We will look at the possibility of forming government with like-minded parties and others like Nitish Kumar and the TDP,” a leader said.

The Congress has also demanded that PM Modi step down from the top post, insisting that the performance of the BJP and its allies – way below the 370-seat “400-paar” targets — is a major loss of face for him.

The demand has been echoed by Trinamool Congress chief and Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.

“The Prime Minister of the country is chosen not only by votes but also by his personal dignity and self-respect. Today Narendra Modi has not only lost a huge number of votes but his personal image has also been deeply hurt. To run a country, not only seats but reputation is also required,” senior Congress leader Jairam Ramesh posted on X, formerly Twitter.

 The Congress will speak to Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and Telugu Desam Party chief Chandrababu Naidu — both erstwhile allies — to explore options for government formation, senior leaders of the party said today.    

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