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Oppn. takes stock after exit polls favour NDA

Akhilesh Yadav meets Mayawati, Naidu calls on Mamata

Unceasing efforts: N. Chandrababu Naidu with Mamata Banerjee at her residence in Kolkata on Monday.PTIPTI

A day after exit polls gave a clear mandate to the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA), Opposition leaders on Monday took stock of the political situation.

While Samajwadi Party (SP) president Akhilesh Yadav called on Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati at her residence in Lucknow, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister and Telugu Desam Party (TDP) leader N. Chandrababu Naidu headed to Kolkata for a meeting with West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.

Despite the exit poll forecasts, Mr. Naidu is continuing with his efforts to create a united block of non-NDA Opposition parties. In case of a hung verdict, Mr. Naidu told other leaders that the Opposition parties could approach President Ramnath Kovind to stake claim as a single entity.

In Lucknow, neither party spoke of what transpired at the meeting, but Mr. Yadav tweeted a photo of himself with Ms. Mayawati and posted a cryptic message. “Ab agle kadam ki tayari [Now, getting ready for the next move].” Sources said the two leaders met to arrive at a consensus before holding any further talks with other Opposition parties.

Mayawati drops plan

The BSP chief dropped her plan to go to Delhi for a possible meeting with other leaders, including former Congress president Sonia Gandhi. There was never an official confirmation of the Mayawati-Sonia meeting, but sources had confirmed to The Hindu the BSP chief’s plan to fly to Delhi.

The possibility of the meeting had emerged soon after Mr. Naidu met Ms. Mayawati and Mr. Yadav in Lucknow last Saturday. But the exit poll results seemed to have forced a rethink on the strategy as the BSP chief is in a “wait and watch” mode.

In Kolkata, Mr. Naidu met Ms. Banerjee at her residence for about 45 minutes in the evening but didn’t reveal what he discussed as he left for the airport. A Trinamool Congress leader, however, said both sides discussed “various scenarios” that might emerge once the results are declared on Thursday.

(With inputs from Omar Rashid in Lucknow and

Suvojit Bagchi in Kolkata)

Modi helped BJP buck anti-incumbency

PM’s leadership of govt. was a decisive factor that swayed voter choices

Narendra Modi was not only the most popular choice for the post of Prime Minister during the course of the 2019 Lok Sabha election — his leadership of the government was a key if not the most decisive factor that swayed voter choices, according to Lokniti’s post-poll survey.

As many as 44% of the respondents preferred Mr. Modi, who established a clear lead over Congress president Rahul Gandhi (24%). Support for Mr. Modi was more pronounced among the youth and graduates and was higher in the Hindi heartland. In these States (barring Uttar Pradesh), voters also gave a higher preference to the “prime ministerial candidate” over other options (party and local candidate, etc.), when asked what factor determined their choice.

The “Modi factor” helped the Bharatiya Janata Party overcome voter dissatisfaction with the party’s re-nominated candidates in several seats as well.

Rahul’s popularity

Mr. Gandhi’s popularity, despite being lower than Mr. Modi’s, has increased considerably since 2014, the data showed.

Did not meet Priya Ramani at hotel: Akbar

Ex-Minister examined in defamation case

M.J. Akbar

Former Union Minister M.J. Akbar, who is being cross-examined in a local court here in the defamation case filed by him against journalist Priya Ramani, on Monday denied meeting Ms. Ramani at Mumbai’s Oberoi Hotel in 1993 for a job interview.

Mr. Akbar had resigned as Minister of State for External Affairs in October last year after Ms. Ramani accused him of sexual harassment when he was the editor of a newspaper she had worked in.

During his cross-examination, Mr. Akbar denied asking Ms. Ramani to come to the Oberoi Hotel in December 1993. He also denied having an offered alcoholic drink to Ms. Ramani in the hotel room and that the conversation between them was “more personal than professional”.

“Since there was no meeting, therefore, it is wrong to suggest that I did not ask Priya Ramani about her writing skills, her knowledge of current affairs, or her ability to enter the world of journalism,” Mr. Akbar replied.

The cross-examination took place in a packed courtroom which including senior journalists, who had come in support of Ms. Ramani, apart from reporters and lawyers. It also saw fierce exchange of arguments between the former Minister’s counsel and senior advocates Geeta Luthra and Rebecca John representing Ms. Ramani.

Mr. Akbar said he was “not sure whether Ms. Priya Ramani was offered a job in Asian Age newspaper in January 1994 in the Delhi office… as it is a 25-year-old matter”. He, however, said that to the “best of his knowledge, she was working in the Bombay office”. As the cross-examination could not be completed, Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Samar Vishal posted the case for further hearing on July 6.

Post-exit polls, Sensex rockets 1,422 points

Investor wealth swelled by ₹5.24 lakh crore on Monday as equity benchmark indices registered their second-highest single day gain in terms of absolute points after exit polls gave the government a comfortable majority, exceeding market expectations.

The 30-share Sensex gained 1,422 points or 3.75% to close at 39,352.67. This was the second-highest single day gain for the Sensex after May 18, 2009, when the benchmark rose 2,111 points. In percentage terms, Monday’s gain was the highest since September 10, 2013, when it gained 3.77%. The broader Nifty gained 421.10 points, or 3.69%, to close at 11,828.25.

‘Rise may be limited’

Naveen Kulkarni, head-research, Reliance Securities, said a further rise could be limited as markets rallied significantly over the last two days because of the exit poll numbers.

“The market is likely to rally further but the rally may not be significant as there are challenges of not so encouraging earnings growth, lower liquidity, slowing economy and global challenges. There could be sector-specific rallies like in infrastructure and banking that could do well,” he said.

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