Naidu ready to join federal front

TDP supremo said he was in touch with leaders of various regional parties

Once viewed as a kingmaker in national politics, Telugu Desam Party (TDP) president N Chandrababu Naidu has said he was ready to join the federal front proposed by Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.

Naidu said he was in touch with leaders of various regional parties as part of efforts to forge a coalition of regional players. The TDP supremo had, in the past, played a crucial role in the formation of the United Front (UF) and the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) governments at the Centre. The TDP was part of the UF government while it extended outside support to the NDA.

Naidu said both the Congress and the BJP were facing a steady erosion in their support base across the country, while regional parties were gaining strength. “The future belongs to regional parties and they will form the next government at the Centre. We will play a key role in this,” he said.

Naidu’s remarks came in the backdrop of Banerjee’s initiative to build a federal front. She has already spoken to Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar (JD-U) and Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik (BJD) about forging a non-Congress and non-BJP alternative.

“One hundred per cent, we will join the federal front,” Naidu told mediapersons here. “The UPA has lost mandate and the Congress is becoming weak. The BJP-led NDA is also not gaining.  The regional parties are emerging stronger. It will be the regional parties that will play a dominant role in the next general elections.

“All these regional parties have a responsibility to see that a third alternative to the UPA and the BJP is formed. So, we will definitely be part of the federal front.”
He did not disclose whether there was any formal invitation from Banerjee to join the federal front.

However, his enthusiastic response to Banerjee’s initiative might put the TDP’s friendly ties with the Left in trouble. For obvious reasons, the Left parties will not be a part of any alliance that has the Trinamool Congress (TMC) in it.

Naidu has a friendly equation with the CPI and the CPM in the state. It is expected that they would tie up for the 2014 elections. 

However, given the animosity between the Left and the TMC, Naidu will have to choose between the two.

The TDP and the Left parties had contested together in the 2009 elections. As a convener of the UF in 1996, Naidu had played a key role, not only in policy-making, but also in deciding the prime ministerial candidates.

 Later, during the NDA regime, his party’s outside support became crucial for the survival of the BJP-led coalition. Naidu had a six-year association with the NDA and fought elections in 1999 and 2004 with the BJP.

However, after losing power in the state in 2004, he severed his links with the saffron party and moved closer to the Left, in what was viewed as an attempted image makeover.

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