WATCH | Chandrababu Naidu calls on BJP foe Gowda

Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu, who has taken it upon himself to build a grand alliance ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, said two big rallies by chief ministers of Karnataka and West Bengal early next year, would act as the main catalyst to unite secular forces.

Naidu, who was in Bengaluru to meet JD(S) supremo H D Deve Gowda and his son and Karnataka Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy two days after the bypoll results, said that while he has begun to take the “initial” exercise of holding parleys with all non-BJP leaders — the two big meetings to be hosted by Kumaraswamy and Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee in January would set the tone for the Mahagathbandhan.

While Mamata has invited non-NDA leaders for a mammoth rally in Kolkata in January, Kumaraswamy will host a massive farmers’ rally in the state in light of the implementation of the farm loan waiver scheme.

Speaking to reporters after meeting the JD(S) leaders at Gowda’s Padmanabhanagar residence, Naidu repeatedly stressed that he had undertaken this exercise to “save democracy and the country’s Constitution”.

Conceding that there were dissenting voices, Naidu said that he had spoken to leaders including BSP’s Mayawati and SP’s Akhilesh Yadav. He also said that he would meet DMK leader M K Stalin on Friday. “I am meeting all leaders. I am interested in consensus,” he said.

Attacking Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP, Naidu said that all premier agencies were in “danger”.

The Telugu Desam Party (TDP) supremo, however, ducked the question of the prime ministerial candidate for the 2019 elections.

“I came here to seek Deve Gowda’s blessings and his support for this great cause. Deve Gowda and I have shared a good relationship from the beginning. People like us — Deve Gowda, Kumaraswamy, myself and other leaders have united to save the nation and democracy. Premier institutions like the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) are in trouble. Even the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), which is a regulatory body, is under threat,” he said.

Charging that the Centre was misusing agencies like the Enforcement Directorate (ED) and Income Tax (I-T) to control and harass Opposition party leaders in states like Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat, Naidu also said that the economy was in doldrums following the devaluation of the rupee and demonetisation — resulting in price rise.  

Naidu also said that he was in need of Gowda’s constant guidance.

“Wherever necessary, he has to intervene and help the nation from this great crisis,” he added.

On the Congress’ role, Naidu said, “Congress is a major Opposition party. There has been only one experiment when the outside support of the Congress was taken. It was during Deve Gowda’s prime ministership when the third front came to power in 1996. Apart from that, all other experiments have had either the Congress or the BJP as the main anchors.”

On the Opposition branding the Mahagathbandhan as a failed test, Naidu said that the Karnataka bypolls reflected the mood of the nation — creating history.

Asserting that Naidu had his backing, Gowda said it was the responsibility of all secular forces, including the Congress, to unite to protect the nation. “Naidu has taken the lead. He has met Rahul Gandhi, Sharad Pawar, Farooq Abdullah, Mayawati, Mamata Banerjee, Stalin and myself. Naidu is doing his best to consolidate all the secular parties to remove this NDA government. We have discussed future steps to be taken. Congress should also cooperate in this task. The country is paramount rather than an individual,” he added.

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WATCH | Chandrababu Naidu calls on BJP foe Gowda

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