Congress, TDP to forge front against Modi-led BJP govt.

Naidu meets Rahul Gandhi, says traditional rivals will put the past behind them

November 01, 2018 03:26 pm | Updated November 02, 2018 12:20 am IST - New Delhi

Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister and TDP chief Chandrababu Naidu and Congress president Rahul Gandhi address a press conference after their meeting in New Delhi on November 1, 2018. Photo: Twitter/@ncbn

Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister and TDP chief Chandrababu Naidu and Congress president Rahul Gandhi address a press conference after their meeting in New Delhi on November 1, 2018. Photo: Twitter/@ncbn

In an effort to build an anti-BJP platform, N. Chandrababu Naidu and Rahul Gandhi, leaders of the traditional rivals Telugu Desam Party and the Congress, met here on Thursday. They later announced that they would work along with other Opposition parties with the primary aim of defeating the Narendra Modi-led BJP government.

Mr. Naidu was back in the capital, for the second time in two weeks, to rally the Opposition parties under the slogan ‘Save Nation, Save Democracy.’

‘To defend the future’

Speaking to reporters after the meeting with Mr. Naidu, Mr. Gandhi said, “We had a very good meeting, and the gist of it was that we have to defend democracy in this country, we have to defend the institutions and we have to defend the future of this country.”

While Mr. Naidu cited “democratic compulsion” to work with the Congress, Mr. Gandhi said both agreed to ignore the past. “We have had a past as you mentioned. Both of us agreed that we are not going to get into the past. We are going to talk about the present and we are going to talk about the future because it is critical for our country, because of what is happening in the country. It’s imperative that all Opposition forces get together and provide a vision to the country,” Mr. Gandhi added.

‘Democratic compulsion’

Mr. Naidu acknowledged that the Congress is the lead Opposition party in the country. “We agreed to work together. Some of you are having doubts, but it is now a democratic compulsion. We have to join together to protect the country. He [Mr. Gandhi] is the main Opposition leader. We have our responsibilities...,” he said.

Both evaded questions on who will lead the Opposition alliance. “We have agreed that the principal idea here is to defeat the BJP and to defend democracy and the institutions... All other ideas will be discussed later. Everybody is going to work together,” Mr. Gandhi said.

In a packed day, Mr. Naidu met Nationalist Congress Party president Sharad Pawar, National Conference patriarch Farooq Abdullah, Rashtriya Lok Dal chief Ajit Singh, former Union Minister Arun Shourie, and Samajwadi Party leader Mulayam Singh. He said he was in constant touch with Trinamool Congress leader Mamata Banerjee and Janata Dal (Secular) patriarch Deve Gowda too.

Speaking to reporters, after his meeting with Mr. Naidu, the NCP president said, “If we collectively work to save democracy, we can definitely save the institutions. Chandrababu (Naidu) will talk to other State political leaders in this regard.” 

A meeting of Opposition leaders will be called soon to chalk out the next course. Drafting a common minimum programme will be done after discussions among all like-minded parties.

Anyone could do better work than Mr. Modi, Mr. Naidu asserted at a press conference later. He said that in his 40-year political career, where he has seen many Prime Ministers including Indira Gandhi, he is yet to encounter a government like the present dispensation, where systematically institutions are being corroded.

He has assured support to the Congress over the alleged Rafale scam, on which the Congress has started a sustained campaign.

Mr. Naidu evaded a question on whether the alliance with the Congress in Telangana will extend to Andhra Pradesh claiming that he is working on larger issues.

Last week, he had met BSP chief Mayawati, Jammu and Kashmir National Conference president Farooq Abdullah and former BJP leader Yashwant Sinha in the national capital.

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