A first: TDP chief to hold talks with Rahul

A first: TDP chief to hold talks with Rahul

TDP chief and Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu. PTI file photo.

In a significant political development, TDP chief and Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu will meet Congress chief Rahul Gandhi in the capital on Thursday, days after indicating that the Congress presence in a united Opposition is a must for its sustainability.

During the day, he will also meet NCP chief Sharad Pawar, CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury and some other Opposition leaders, whom the TDP president will be meeting for a political discussion for the first time.

With this, the TDP has come a full circle when it comes to its relationship with Congress. Till now, the party, formed by Telugu matinee idol N T Rama Rao, was on an anti-Congress plank and has been opposed to the main Opposition party.

Naidu is returning to the capital for the second time in five days after meeting an array of Opposition leaders, from BSP chief Mayawati to AAP's Arvind Kejriwal besides National Conference patriarch Farooq Abdullah and veteran socialist leader Sharad Yadav.

He also had a telephonic chat with Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav on Tuesday.

Opposition sources said both Rahul and Naidu will discuss the national political situation and a possible Opposition unity. AICC general secretary in-charge of Andhra Pradesh Oommen Chandy will also be in the capital on Thursday.

Naidu has made it clear that in the past couple of months — after his bitter parting of ways with the BJP-led NDA — that excluding a national party like the Congress from an Opposition group is not feasible in the fight against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP.

TDP sources said Naidu, who was earlier convenor of both the United Front and NDA, is pitching himself as "facilitator" for Opposition unity amid parties taking different routes in the upcoming Assembly elections.

Naidu, a senior leader who has coordinated with others, is telling various leaders the need for unity to take on the Modi regime.

He feels that the "political compulsion" will force all Opposition parties to come together either on pre-poll or post-poll basis against the BJP.

Last Saturday, Naidu also made it clear that it was impossible to provide a stable government at the Centre by the  Opposition parties without the Congress.