"We expect NDA to get below 200 (seats) and such a situation will give Congress and like-minded parties a chance to form a coalition (government)," a senior Congress leader said on condition of anonymity.
But the leader refused to hazard a guess as to what the tally would be for Congress and its UPA alliance. The general expectation within the party is that it would get between 120 to 140 seats as against the 206 it bagged in the last elections.
The party is divided over the issue of forming the next government or propping up a third front coalition with a section opposing any such move, the contention being that such a course of action would weaken Congress.
However, another section, which includes Finance Minister P Chidambaram, is arguing that Congress has a "very good chance" of forming the government under its leadership along with some allies.
The idea of an "enlarged" UPA-III means taking on board new allies and keeping open the issue of leadership to stop Modi from becoming Prime Minister.
"All options are on the table and no option is off. It all depends on the numbers we get and what BJP gets and the margin between us," said another senior leader.