INDIA leaders meet as countdown to results begin; Kharge says grouping to get 295+ seats

INDIA bloc parties will get more than 295 seats in the Lok Sabha polls, Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge said on Saturday, asserting that they had arrived at the figure after feedback from people.
Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge, Delhi Chief Minister and AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal, JMM leader Kalpana Soren, DMK leader TR Baalu, AAP leader Sanjay Singh, RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav, CPI leader D Raja and others during a press conference after INDIA bloc leaders' meeting at Kharge's residence, in New Delhi, Saturday, June 1, 2024.
Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge, Delhi Chief Minister and AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal, JMM leader Kalpana Soren, DMK leader TR Baalu, AAP leader Sanjay Singh, RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav, CPI leader D Raja and others during a press conference after INDIA bloc leaders' meeting at Kharge's residence, in New Delhi, Saturday, June 1, 2024.

New Delhi | Leaders of several INDIA bloc parties met on Saturday to take stock of the opposition's preparations leading up to the June 4 counting of votes polled in the Lok Sabha elections, and claimed they will get more than 295 seats, enough for them to form the next government.

Addressing the media after a two-and-a-half-hour confabulations here, Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge asserted the INDIA bloc has arrived at the figure after feedback from people.

Kharge said the leaders of the alliance met at his residence and dwelled upon a host of issues, including the precautions to be taken on the counting day on June 4. He said they have instructed their party workers to not leave the counting halls till all formalities are completed.

He said the opposition parties have sought time from the Election Commission on Sunday to raise their concerns and urge the poll body to address them.

The meeting began at Kharge's residence this afternoon as voting in the last phase of the seven-phase general elections were underway for 57 seats. The counting for all the phases will be held on June 4.

"The INDIA bloc will get more than 295 seats. We have arrived at this figure after speaking with all our leaders," Kharge told reporters. "This is a survey of people. People have given this information to our leaders. The government surveys are there and their media friends also inflate figures and put it out. Therefore, we want to tell you about the reality," the Congress president said.

Targeting the BJP, he said, "They are trying to give a narrative through government exit polls and we want to tell the people the truth."

Senior leaders of the Congress, Samajwadi Party, CPI(M), CPI, DMK, JMM, AAP, RJD, Shiv Sena (UBT) and the NCP (Sharad Pawar) were present at the meeting.

TMC supremo and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had already said they would not attend the meeting as polling was to take place in some Lok Sabha seats in the state. PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti did not attend the meeting due to personal reasons.

Opposition leaders who attended the meeting included Sharad Pawar, Akhilesh Yadav, Tejashwi Yadav, Anil Desai, Sitaram Yechury, Arvind Kejriwal, Bhagwant Mann, Sanjay Singh, Raghav Chadha, Champai Soren, Kalpana Soren, T R Baalu, Farooq Abdullah, D Raja, Dipankar Bhattacharya, Jitendra Awhad and Mukesh Sahani.

Congress leaders Kharge, Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi, K C Venugopal and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra were also present at the meeting.

Kharge said the leaders of INDIA parties met informally to take stock of the preparations leading up to the counting day. He said they discussed and analysed the feedback received from different sources.

The INDIA bloc parties have also given instructions to their workers about Form 17 C -- which contains the break-up of number of votes polled -- and not to get out of the counting hall until he or she gets the certificate of election, he said.

"The fight is still not over, and the leaders and workers of all the parties are extremely alert. I thank each one of them for their esteemed presence.," he said.

"We have fought the Lok Sabha Elections 2024 with all our might and are confident of a positive outcome, as the people of India have supported us," he said in a post on X.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said that after taking feedback from everywhere "we believe that the INDIA bloc will win more than 295 seats, while the BJP will get around 220 seats. The NDA, meanwhile, will get around 235 seats. The INDIA bloc is moving forward to form a strong government."

Samajwadi Party's Akhilesh Yadav said, "The INDIA bloc is going to form the government. He (PM) has gone to see the sea and he has his back towards the people, who are now against him".

"The results are in favour of the INDIA alliance and the big thing is that the BJP is losing," he said.

Jharkhand CM Champai Soren said, "We (INDIA bloc) will do very well in Jharkhand and win more than 10 seats. The INDIA bloc is winning 295 seats."

"The people are winning, and INDIA will win. We have been saying that we will get 295-plus seats," said RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav.

Asked about who would be their PM candidate, he said, "We will decide about the rest together after June 4".

CPI-M's Sitaram Yechury said a common minimum programme will be chalked out once the numbers come and that will be the basis of the new government.

Meanwhile, the INDIA bloc parties also announced they will participate in the exit poll debates on TV this evening after the grouping's top leaders met and deliberated on the issue.

The development came a day after the Congress said it has decided not to participate in any Lok Sabha exit poll debates on television channels. The party does not want to indulge in speculation and slugfest for TRP, it had said.

"After considering factors for and against participating in the exit polls, it has been decided by consensus that all the INDIA (bloc) parties will participate in the exit poll debates on television this evening," Congress's media and publicity department head Pawan Khera said in a post on X.

In another development, Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh alleged that Home Minister Amit Shah has been calling up district magistrates and collectors and indulging in "blatant and brazen" intimidation.

"The outgoing home minister has been calling up DMs/Collectors. So far he has spoken to 150 of them. This is blatant and brazen intimidation, showing how desperate the BJP is," he said in a post on X.

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