Congress ‘main an­chor’ of grand al­liance of re­gional par­ties: Naidu

The TDP supremo met Kar­nataka CM HD Ku­maraswamy & for­mer prime min­is­ter HD Deve­g­owda

Financial Chronicle - - FRONT PAGE - FC BUREAU

STEP­PING up his ef­forts for an anti-BJP front in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, TDP supremo and Andhra Pradesh chief min­is­ter N Chandrababu Naidu on Thurs­day met his Kar­nataka coun­ter­part HD Ku­maraswamy af­ter which he said a grand al­liance of var­i­ous re­gional par­ties would be forged soon in which the Congress will be a "main an­chor".

Naidu's meet­ing with the top brass of the JD(S)— Ku­maraswamy and his fa­ther and for­mer prime min­is­ter H D Deve Gowda— came two days af­ter the JD(S)-Congress coali­tion can­di­dates de­feated the BJP 4-1 in three Lok Sabha and two as­sem­bly seats in the by­polls.

Set­ting the stage for the re­vival of an united front against the BJP, Naidu claimed the mood of the na­tion was against the BJP-led NDA and soon an al­liance would be formed with var­i­ous re­gional par­ties.

Speak­ing to re­porters af­ter the meet­ing, Naidu said the ini­tial steps for the for­ma­tion of the al­liance was un­der­way and that once the modal­i­ties were fixed, pro­grammes would be chalked out later.

"I have spo­ken to Mayawati, Akhilesh Ya­dav. I have met ev­ery­body. To­mor­row I am meet­ing Stalin (DMK pres­i­dent). We will de­cide how to take for­ward the al­liance with con­sen­sus. It is an ini­tial ex­er­cise. Af­ter that we will work to­gether," he said.

Naidu also said the Congress will be a main an­chor in any "grand al­liance" of op­po­si­tion par­ties.

"Congress is a ma­jor op­po­si­tion party," he said, point­ing out that Deve Gowda be­came prime min­is­ter with sup­port of the Congress from out­side in 1996.

"... Congress is a main an­chor," Naidu added.

How­ever, he ducked ques­tions on the al­liance's prime min­is­te­rial can­di­date. “PM can­di­date we will be de­cided later, first we will save the na­tion,” he said.

The com­ments by Naidu came on a day when se­nior Congress leader P Chi­dambaram said state-wise al­liances would ben­e­fit the party and was the best way to de­feat the BJP.

"The kind of al­liance that was formed in Kar­nataka yielded re­sults. Sim­i­lar al­liances should be formed in dif­fer­ent states," Chi­dambaram told re­porters in Kolkata.

The elec­toral sweep by the rul­ing coali­tion in Kar­nataka came as a boost to op­po­si­tion unity as the by­polls were seen as a barom­e­ter of the pub­lic mood ahead of the 2019 polls.

Gowda said the meet­ing was called to work out fur­ther strat­egy on form­ing the al­liance and urged “like-minded” par­ties to join hands for the elec­tions.

"It is the re­spon­si­bil­ity of all sec­u­lar par­ties in­clud­ing Congress to come to­gether to re­place NDA govt,” he said.

Ku­maraswamy ex­pressed con­fi­dence that the 2019 polls will see a re­peat of the 1996 re­sult, when a united op­po­si­tion had formed the govern­ment and Gowda had be­come the prime min­is­ter.

“I think 1996 will be re­peated in 2019 elec­tions.," he said, adding Gowda and Naidu are old friends and their arith­metic is good.

BJP's es­tranged ally Shiv Sena, mean­while, took a dig at its se­nior coali­tion part­ner over the Kar­nataka re­sult, say­ing it in­di­cated that "ac­che din" (good days) will re­turn for the Congress in 2019.

The Ud­dhav Thack­er­ayled party also said the BJP's de­feat in a string of Lok Sabha and as­sem­bly by­polls in the coun­try would in­fuse a "fresh lease of life" in the Congress ahead of the Lok Sabha elec­tions.

In an ed­i­to­rial laced with sar­casm in the party mouth­piece "Saa­mana", the Sena said the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) prob­a­bly lost in Kar­nataka for ig­nor­ing poll promises like con­struc­tion of a Ram tem­ple in Ay­o­d­hya and for "im­pos­ing some other agenda".

Mock­ing the BJP, the edit said the party should think why its "los­ing streak" is con­tin­u­ing un­abated even as some "rev­o­lu­tion­ary changes" are tak­ing place in the coun­try un­der the BJPled govern­ment by its own ad­mis­sion.

N Chandrababu Naidu (R) with HD Deve­g­owda and HD Ku­maraswamy (L) be­fore a meet­ing in Ben­galuru

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