The idea is to defeat BJP, defend democracy, says Rahul Gandhi.
New Delhi: Making the most serious effort till date to bring the entire Opposition on a common platform to take on the Narendra Modi government in 2019 general elections, Andhra Pradesh chief minister N. Chandrababu Naidu on Thursday met top leaders and regional satraps, including Congress president Rahul Gandhi, NCP chief Sharad Pawar and Samajwadi Party patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav and his son Akhilesh Yadav.
“We decided to meet in Delhi to chalk out a plan to protect the future of the nation,” Mr Naidu said after meeting Mr Pawar and National Conference’s Farooq Abdullah.
All the leaders decided to meet in the national capital soon and in the future chart out a Common Minimum Programme for a pre-poll or post-poll alliance. But they made efforts to side step the question as to who will lead such an alliance if it comes into being.
“Any leader will perform better than Narendra Modi,” Mr Naidu quipped when asked whether the Opposition would be able to provide a credible alternative to the PM.
In the same vein, the Congress president, whose party, many feel, is trying to project him as the face of the Opposition alliance, said it has been agreed that the principle idea is to defeat the BJP and defend democracy and institutions of this country. “All other ideas, we will discuss later,” he said, adding, “Everyone is going to work together”.
“Your interest is in sensationalism but we have to work together to deliver people’s aspirations,” he added when asked the question again.
The TDP chief, who was NDA coordinator during Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s term as PM, described his new-found bonhomie with the Congress, whom his party had blamed for the bifurcation of the state of Andhra Pradesh, as a “democratic compulsion”.
Mr Gandhi on his part said both of them have decided “not to dwell on the past”.
“We have a past. Both of us have agreed we are not going to get into the past. We are going to talk about the present and future because it is critical for our country,” he said.
At a separate press conference later, Mr Naidu maintained that there are only two sides in the country now — the BJP and anti-BJP. Last week the TDP chief had said that it was not possible to form a government at the Centre without a national party.
Though the TDP as a party was a product of anti-Congressism, it might be recalled that both the parties have entered into an alliance to fight the Assembly elections in Telangana.
Mr Naidu, however, said that that at today’s meeting seat-sharing details were not discussed with the Congress president. That was for local leaders to sort out, he said and added, “I only spoke of national issues”.
The TDP chief was also remained non-committal on demands for a Joint Parliamentary Committee to probe the Rafale deal saying the matter was in court and would be sorted out.
That Mr Naidu’s personal equation with senior Opposition leaders had come into play was evident when Mr Pawar, addressing the media jointly with him and NCP Farooq Abdullah, said there was a need to save democracy as all institutions were being destroyed by the present government.
“If we collectively work to save the democracy, we can definitely save the institutions as well. Mr Naidu is going to talk to all the state leaders and then we will call a meeting of all supportive leaders and collectively discuss further course of action,” he later tweeted.
Mr Pawar had recently absolved the PM of any responsibility in the Rafale deal, sending flutters down the Opposition camp.
Quick to react, the BJP accused the Andhra Pradesh chief minister of burying the “spirit of NTR’s TDP as a party with the alternative ideology of the Congress”.
BJP’s Rajya Sabha MP, G.V.L. Narasimha Rao tweeted, “TDP government in Andhra Pradesh is mired in many scandals (IT, PD accounts, Irrigation scam etc.). MPs are being probed for misappropriation, tax evasion. Reason why N. Chandrababu Naidu is running from pillar to post to forge a ‘Corrupt Alliance’ in Delhi.”