The INDIA bloc will take appropriate steps at the appropriate time to realise the desire of Indian citizens not to be ruled by a Bharatiya Janata Party-led government, said Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge on Wednesday.

This came a day after the Lok Sabha election results were declared, with the National Democratic Alliance securing the majority by an unexpectedly narrow margin.

The BJP won 240 Lok Sabha seats, a significant fall from its tally of 303 seats in 2019. The final tally of the party-led National Democratic Alliance was 292. The Congress won 99 seats, significantly improving its 2019 tally of 52 seats. The INDIA bloc collectively won 232 seats.

Speaking to media persons after a meeting of the Opposition alliance on Wednesday, Kharge thanked the voters for their “overwhelming support for the INDIA bloc”.

“The people’s mandate has given a befitting reply to the BJP and their politics of hate, corruption and deprivation,” said the Congress chief. “This is a mandate in defence of the Constitution of India and against price rise, unemployment and crony capitalism, and also to save democracy.”

Kharge said the INDIA bloc will continue to fight against the “fascist rule” of the BJP led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The Opposition leaders had met to chalk out their course of action.

During the meeting, Kharge said that the INDIA bloc would welcome all parties that share a fundamental commitment to the values enshrined in the Preamble of the Constitution, reported PTI.

He also said that the election results were “decisively against Mr Modi, against him and the substance and style of his politics”.

“It is a huge political loss for him personally apart from being a clear moral defeat as well,” said Kharge. “However, he is determined to subvert the will of the people.”

Meanwhile, the National Democratic Alliance unanimously elected Modi as the leader of the coalition on Wednesday, paving the way for him to stake claim to form the government for the third time.

Quoting unidentified sources, ANI reported that Modi will take oath on June 8.

The decision was taken at a meeting of the National Democratic Alliance parties at the prime minister’s residence in Delhi.

Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and N Chandrababu Naidu, the leaders of two key allies of the BJP – the Janata Dal (United) in Bihar and the Telugu Desam Party in Andhra Pradesh – were in attendance at the meeting, seated next to Modi.

Both regional parties are likely to play a crucial role in government formation and have reportedly sought key portfolios in the Union cabinet. The two leaders are also likely to seek special category status for their states.