As the voting to elect the next President takes place on Thursday, the Congress-led UPA has established a clear edge over the opposition not only in terms of electoral arithmetic, but also by some apt political management.
Not only has it emerged as the only formation that could stay together, it also managed to wean way three key parties from the opposition-JD(U), CPI(M) and Shiv Sena.
Swelling support in favour of its presidential candidate Pranab Mukherjee had made the Congress confident of an easy victory.
Its key strategists, however, did not give up on Mamata Banerjee. The continued effort, led by PM Manmohan Singh, to win back a sulking Banerjee finally paid off when she announced her support for the UPA 48 hours before the polling.
Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari said, "This will strengthen the ties between the Congress and the Trinamool."
The UPA managers are also confident that no large-scale cross-voting will take place from the UPA.
"Except a few votes in Meghalaya, we don't fear for any major loss due to cross-voting. On the other hand, many opposition MPs and MLAs may vote for us," said parliamentary affairs minister Pawan Kumar Bansal.
Bansal added that the ruling coalition's vote share may go up to 7.5 lakh.
To ensure a high victory margin, the Congress managers communicated with smaller parties and independent MPs. Expelled SP MPs such as Amar Singh and Jaya Prada, Vijay Mallya, Rajiv Chandrasekhar have been requested to cast their votes for Congress candidates.
Mukherjee is also set to be the first presidential candidate to cast his vote in the poll. In 2007, Pratibha Patil had won by a margin of 3,07,000 votes. Mukherjee is expected to top this record.
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