On the eve of the counting of votes in Rajasthan, both the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Congress have started reaching out to independent candidates, including rebels, and smaller parties.
Nearly 40 rebels from both parties have contested elections after being denied tickets and have put up a tough fight.
With several exit polls predicting a tight race between the BJP and the Congress, MLAs from this group could play a crucial role.
Sources in the two parties said preparations have been made at different levels to ensure that independent and rebel candidates who win elections are brought to their fold in case of a split verdict.
Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot met Governor Kalraj Mishra on Thursday soon after exit poll predictions were released.
On Friday, former chief minister Vasundhara Raje also met the Governor.
While most pollsters predicted an edge for the BJP, three exit polls in their upper limit forecast a Congress win in the desert state.
"The party leaders are in touch with the independents and rebels," a Congress source said while expressing confidence that the party will form the government.
Similarly, sources in the BJP also said that the leaders were approaching the party rebels who contested elections as independents.
Apart from the rebels, the parties are exploring the possibilities of post-poll alliances with smaller parties, if required.
The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), the Bharat Adivasi Party (BAP), the Bhartiya Tribal Party (BTP), the Rashtriya Loktantrik Party (RLP), the Communist Party of India-Marxist are among the parties contesting elections in the state.
While the BJP has not formed any pre-poll alliance, Congress left one seat (Bharatpur) for its partner the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD).
Some of the BJP rebels are Ravindra Singh Bhati (Sheo), Chandrabhan Singh Aakya (Chittorgarh), Yoonus Khan (Deedwana), Kailash Meghwal (Shahpura), Asha Meena (Sawai Madhopur), Ashu Singh Surpura (Jhotwara), Rohitashv Sharma (Bansur) while Virendra Beniwal (Lunkaransar), Gopal Baheti (Pushkar), Ramchandra Saradhana (Virat Nagar) are among other Congress rebels.
In the 2018 assembly elections, Congress had secured 99 out of 199 seats that went to polls and formed the government while its ally RLD also won one seat.
The Congress later won the one seat (Ramgarh) where elections were held later because of the demise of the BSP candidate.
In September 2019, all six BSP MLAs defected to the Congress.