If the numbers do not add up for the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance when the election results are out on Friday, regional parties will again hold the key to government formation. Those facing Assembly elections in the near future in States with sizable Muslim populations will find it difficult to go with the BJP.

Early on Thursday, Congress spokesman Rashid Alvi floated the idea of Trinamool Congress supremo and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee heading a grouping to form the government.

“I suggest that regional parties should elect Ms. Banerjee, who is secular, competent and honest beyond doubt, as their leader,” Mr. Alvi said. However, the party snubbed him for his suggestion. “Whatever Alvi has said, it is his personal opinion, and we have not discussed anything like that within the party,” party general secretary Shakeel Ahmed said.

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav told The Hindu that the Samajwadi Party remained steadfast to its commitment to help form a secular government.

The Bahujan Samaj Party is said to have held parleys with the Sangh Parivar in recent weeks, but the Assembly election in 2017 will weigh heavily on party chief Mayawati’s mind. The Left is interpreting the decision of the AIADMK to expel K. Malaichamy from the party as an effort by Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa to keep everyone guessing.

Though unable to stitch together a seat-sharing arrangement with the AIADMK, the Left is taking comfort in the fact that like other 10 signatories to the February 25 statement for the formation a third alternative, the party has not left the fold. The DMK and the TRS have said they would go with a secular front.

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