Naidu met a host of opposition leaders such as Pawar and Farooq, trio says country’s institutions being destroyed.
New Delhi: The Congress and the Telugu Desam Party Thursday resolved to set aside their differences and work together to defend democracy.
“We are coming together, to save the nation. We have to forget the past, now it is a democratic compulsion to unite. All opposition needs to be one,” said TDP chief N. Chandrababu Naidu after meeting Congress president Rahul Gandhi.
The two met at Gandhi’s residence. Sources said alliances for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections were discussed.
“We had a very good meeting, the gist was that we have to defend democracy and future of the country,” Naidu said.
Gandhi later took to Twitter to send a message of “unity”.
I had a good meeting today with Shri Chandrababu Naidu. Amongst other things, we discussed the issue of opposition unity. I look forward to carrying forward our dialogue and to working together in the upcoming state & general elections. pic.twitter.com/wNowJhP4sm
— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) November 1, 2018
Naidu is in Delhi and earlier in the day met with several opposition leaders including NCP chief Sharad Pawar and the NC’s Farooq Abdullah.
Naidu meets NCP’s Pawar and NC’s Farooq Abdullah
Naidu also met with Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar and National Conference leader Farooq Abdullah — the key architects of the attempts to solidify an alliance of non-BJP parties in the run-up to the 2019 elections — in the Capital Thursday.
They are believed to have deliberated on a common minimum program for like-minded opposition parties to come together and form an alliance against the BJP-led NDA government.
Briefing reporters after the meeting, Pawar said, “We are observing an assault on institutions such as the CBI, ED and the Reserve Bank of India. The situation is deteriorating day by day.”
To address this situation, Pawar said that Naidu suggested that leaders of opposition collectively discuss the issues. “We should try to invite non-BJP political party leaders, assess the situation and take a call… If we collectively work to save democracy, we can save the institutions as well,” Pawar added.
The TDP chief said that as senior leaders they feel bad about the situation in the country. “That is why we are planning a meeting with leaders of other political parties. Then we can chalk out a program for future and how to go forward,” Naidu said.
This is the second time in less than a week that Naidu is visiting the Capital to meet opposition leaders. Last Saturday, he was in town and held a series of meetings with BSP supremo Mayawati, NC leader Farooq Abdullah, Delhi CM and Aam Aadmi Party leader Arvind Kejriwal, Loktantrik Janata Party chief Sharad Yadav and former finance minister Yashwant Sinha.
Meetings on, alliance still in the works
Although opposition parties have intensified their deliberations, party leaders say it is too early to firm up the contours of an opposition alliance, and on whether it will be a pre- or post-poll tie-up.
“We are clear on one thing — if the BJP has to be kept out of power, all parties opposed to them have to join hands,” said a senior Trinamool Congress leader who did not want to be named.
“But it is too early to predict what shape the alliance will take or if it is going to be a different formula in states where regional parties are on a strong footing and a different formula nationally.”
West Bengal CM and Trinamool Congress chief, Mamata Banerjee, and Pawar have also had separate meetings with the Congress, BSP, SP and AAP leaders among others to get them to be a part of a federal front to take on the BJP.
Banerjee was in the Capital in August and had met Congress leader Sonia Gandhi and the party president among others.
Face of the alliance a tricky issue
Another tricky issue for any opposition union will be deciding on who will be the face of the alliance.
The Congress president had earlier said that he is open to anyone not backed by the RSS for the Prime Ministerial post, while other opposition leaders including Pawar, Naidu and Banerjee have refused to comment on the subject.
Political analysts are of the view that any discussion on who should be the face of the alliance could derail the discussions.
“The parties also realise this. That is why the issue is not broached in their meetings,” said Sanjay Kumar, director of the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies. “There are three-four serious contenders for the PM post in the alliance that the opposition parties are helming together.”
Kumar added that at best, the parties should decide on state-wise alliances as of now and leave out any discussion on a probable PM candidate.
“It will depend on the numbers. In the eventuality of the alliance managing to trounce the BJP, the PM candidate should be decided on the basis on whichever party gets the maximum number,” Kumar added.
Get the PrintEssential to make sense of the day's key developments