Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu on Saturday said Opposition parties looking to defeat the Bharatiya Janata Party in the Lok Sabha elections will meet in New Delhi on November 22 to chalk out their future course of action, PTI reported. The announcement came after the Telugu Desam Party chief wrapped up a series of meetings with Opposition leaders in different parts of the country.
Naidu was speaking at a joint press conference after meeting Congress General Secretary Ashok Gehlot in Amaravati. “This is broadly an anti-BJP platform. This is in the interest of the nation,” said Naidu. “Save democracy, save the nation and save the institutions... that is the agenda.”
Naidu said the country has only two platforms – the BJP and anti-BJP. “Political parties should decide which side they are on,” he said. “If they don’t join us, it means they are with the BJP.”
There is an “undeclared Emergency-type atmosphere in the country” and institutions are getting destroyed, Gehlot said. “The Constitution is getting weakened and people are worried. Not one section of the society is happy with the Modi administration in the last four-and-a-half years.”
Naidu had met Congress President Rahul Gandhi on November 1 to discuss a united Opposition. Gandhi had said after the meeting that his party would work with the Telugu Desam Party to “defend democracy and the future of the country”. The “principal idea here is to defeat the BJP”, Gandhi had said.
On November 8, Naidu met Janata Dal (Secular) President HD Deve Gowda and his son, Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy, in Bengaluru as part of his efforts to forge a third front. Deve Gowda, a former prime minister, echoed Naidu’s remarks and said the Modi-led government had created a host of problems, including “destabilising constitutionally created institutions”.
The next day, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam President MK Stalin agreed to lend support to “a grand alliance of secular forces” after meeting Naidu in Chennai.
“Now I have convinced everybody,” Naidu said on Saturday. “Everybody is willing to cooperate with us.”
He has not met West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee yet, but said he is in touch with her and will meet her on November 19 or November 20.
The Telugu Desam Party chief said the Congress is the main Opposition party in this experiment. “They have more responsibility,” he said. “We have to acknowledge that.” The meeting in Delhi will come up with ways to move forward and build an organisational structure for the anti-BJP platform, he added.
A plan of action will also be drafted to fight the National Democratic Alliance government over its alleged “anti-people” policies, the Hindustan Times reported. These include the alleged misuse of central agencies like the Central Bureau of Investigation and the Income Tax department to settle scores with political rivals, dismantling of institutions, and the “ill-effects” of demonetisation, said Naidu.
The Telugu Desam Party chief said that some parties may join the alliance after Assembly elections in five states and “one or two” may come on board after the Lok Sabha elections. The sharing of seats in elections and other issues will be decided later, Naidu said.