NAIDu wIll DECIDE ON tRuCk wItH CONgRESS AFtER 11 DEC
Said this at a press meet in the presence of Congress chief Rahul Gandhi.
canvassing in Telangana.
Senior TDP leaders close to the Andhra Chief Minister said that the Congress leadership was keen on continuing their new found friendship in Andhra too. Though Rahul Gandhi did not raise this issue with Naidu, AICC general secretary Ashok Gehlot who came to Vijayawada last month took up the matter and was ready to settle to for any number of Assembly and LS seats.
“We have openly joined hands with Congress for the first time in our 35-year history for the sake of taking on the ruling TRS in Telangana and we need to see how this experiment went off with the common people,” said an Andhra minister who took part in the campaigning of TDP for its candidate Suhasini in Kukatpally Assembly seat in Hyderabad.
According to this minister, Congress is seeking around 35 Assembly seats out of the total 175 and seven to eight LS seats out of the total 25. The minister told this newspaper that Naidu would consider the request only after the Telangana Assembly results were out. “Here, the number of seats to be allotted to Congress is not an issue; if they fare better, we may give more,” he said. Naidu is carefully monitoring the Telangana Assembly elections as he would be basing his future relations with Congress at the national level as well as in AP.
Naidu not only participated in a number of rallies and road-shows in Telangana, but also gave suggestions to improve the lot of Congress candidates too in some seats where the party faced difficulties. Naidu also settled for fewer seats in Telangana. Though he was promised 16 Assembly seats initially, the Congress later cut the number to 15 and 14 and then to 13. Finally, the party settled for 12 seats—as the Congress backed its own candidate, who had turned rebel, in the Ibrahimpatnam seat—all for the sake of keeping the alliance together, TDP sources pointed out. The TDP leader is also stated to have pumped in huge sums of funds for the victory of TDP and Congress candidates in Telangana.
Naidu is now firm on testing the Congress mettle and its performance would be taken as criteria for furthering the alliance in Andhra Pradesh. If Congress fails in Telangana on 11 December, Naidu may prefer to go it alone in AP.
Naidu, who is coordinating an anti-BJP front at the national level, will also take a call on projecting Rahul Gandhi as the face of the front, if Congress does well in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, besides Telangana and Mizoram. Otherwise, Naidu may prefer some other leader to lead the front, sources said.
Naidu called for non-BJP parties’ meeting in Delhi on Monday, a day before the commencement of Parliament’s winter session and the counting of votes in five states. As of now, there is no invitation to TRS, which is locked in a contest with the Congress-led front in Telangana. TDP leaders are also not sure of BSP leader Mayawati joining the meeting on Monday.
N. Chandrababu Naidu