Said this at a press meet in the pres­ence of Congress chief Rahul Gandhi.

The Sunday Guardian - - Nation -

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

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