- Sharad Pawar reached out to Jagan Reddy, KCR, Naveen Patnaik: sources
- Mr Pawar reached out for support in case NDA falls short of majority
- Mr Patnaik, KCR believed to have given assurance to back UPA if needed
Leading players in the opposition are working the phones and establishing a connect with a group of political leaders who can swing numbers in case the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) falls short of a majority despite exit polls predictions for the national election results on Thursday. Among them is Maharashtra politician Sharad Pawar, who has been playing matchmaker between various parties that are inherently opposed to each other but could be convinced to join the team.
Sources say Sharad Pawar has reached out to YSR Congress leader Jagan Mohan Reddy, Telangana Rashtra Samiti leader K Chandrasekhara Rao - the Chief Minister of Telangana - and Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik.
Mr Pawar has reportedly made phone calls to Mr Rao, aka KCR, and Naveen Patnaik for support in case the opposition gets the sliver of a chance to form the government.
The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader is believed to have been assured support by Naveen Patnaik and Mr Rao a.k.a KCR if the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) has the numbers to form a stable government with their support.
Mr Pawar has been in touch with Chandrababu Naidu, the other leader who has been city-hopping over the past few days for discussions with leaders like Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, Uttar Pradesh coalition partners Mayawati and Akhilesh Yadav and Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi. Yesterday, Mr Naidu also met Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy and his father Deve Gowda of the Janata Dal Secular, which has an alliance with the Congress.
Mr Naidu's chief rival Jagan Reddy is yet to return calls from the opposition. Sources say the NCP chief "could not reach" Jagan Reddy as he is travelling.
To be sure, Mr Reddy is also being pursued by the NDA, which is trying to consolidate its numbers, just in case. Last year, Mr Naidu had quit the NDA alleging his state Andhra Pradesh had been short-changed by the central government.
Sources close to Naveen Patnaik have only disclosed that he received a call from Congress's Kamal Nath, the Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh. The two have known each other since their Doon School days.
Mr Patnaik is believed to have maintained his stance of equidistance from the BJP-led and Congress-led alliances. But sources say this time, his Biju Janata Dal is inclined to support whoever "offers the best package" for cyclone-hit Odisha.
Exit polls on Sunday predicted over 300 of Lok Sabha's 543 seats for the NDA, well past the majority mark of 272. The Congress and its allies were given 122 and non-aligned parties, 114.