Naidu Joins Cong Chorus for United Opposition

Hit by multiple troubles in Andhra, TDP chief N Chandrababu Naidu publicly dropped his pet theme of a ‘non-Congress third front’ and eagerly joined the Rahul Gandhi-led Congress’ pitch for a united opposition fight against the Modi-led BJP for the Lok Sabha polls.

Seasoned Congress leaders are relishing the fact that Naidu, after his exercise to project himself as kingmaker, has fallen in line. He had been working for several months to create a ‘non-Congress third front’ while he was in the NDA and even after estrangement with the BJP under pressure from the YSRCP over AP special package.

After a meeting with Rahul Gandhi, Naidu told the media that opposition parties’ primary task would be to unite against the BJP “to save democracy and the nation” and added that he met Gandhi as Congress was the largest opposition party. A visibly happy Gandhi too underlined the need for opposition unity.

Political circles attributed three reasons for Naidu’s ‘new-found love’ for the Congress and the pitch for a united front: The TDP, facing acute incumbency burden, is wary of YSR Congress and its perceived ‘indirect tango’ with the BJP. Naidu, therefore, is desperate for an alliance with the Congress in AP. The Congress knows the plot and will play along, but the AP unit is divided on gifting him an easy alliance to save his party in the electoral battles. Yet Gandhi and his AICC team can showcase that another traditional anti-Congress regional party is lowering its anti-Congress plank.

Secondly, there have been a series of I-T raids on many TDP leaders close to Naidu. There is a buzz in Delhi that Naidu could soon face a corruption case. His recent pronouncements about the Centre’s ‘plot’ to dismiss his government betrays this anxiety.

Thirdly, most regional parties TDP has courted have told Naidu that they have compulsions to align with the Congress or/and pitch for a united opposition. The TDP has no use for anti-Congress parties such as the BJD, TRS or AAP, as unlike the Congress, none of them have votes in AP to aid TDP in its fight against the YSRCP. The recent decision of the TDP’s Telangana unit to align with the Congress against the TRS was more out of regional compulsion, Congress leaders said.

While making a united opposition pitch, Naidu would like to hide the fact that even during the May line-up in Bengaluru for Kumaraswamy’s oathtaking ceremony, the TDP chief had held backdoor meetings with some regional leaders, pitching for a ‘anti-Congress and anti-BJP’ front. Naidu coming closer to the Congress is bound to be a turn off for certain quarters who had banked on dividing the opposition in the name of a ‘third front’ or ‘regional front.’

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