‘This is work in progress’: Chandrababu Naidu envisions opposition alliance ahead of mega protest today

New Delhi: Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu on Tuesday pitched for a possible pre-poll alliance at the national level among political parties that are not competing at the State level.

He said a grand alliance between the Congress, Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool and Arvind Kejriwal’s AAP and his party may still come into existence.

Naidu was in Delhi to protest against the centre over his demand of a special financial status to Andhra Pradesh. He said that national interests would make parties come together, news agency IANS reported.

“This is work in progress,” he said, adding that the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and the Samajwadi Party (SP) could also be part of the understanding, maybe even after the election.

Naidu, along with TDP MPs and state legislators, met Ramnath Kovind at Rashtrapati Bhavan on Tuesday and presented a memorandum to the President with 18 demands, including promises listed in the bifurcation act and special category status to the state, a promise, he said, Modi failed to keep.

Naidu’s approach to the anti-BJP alliance is perhaps reflected in his party’s understanding with the Congress as far as Andhra Pradesh is concerned. The decision to not have an alliance with the grand old party in Andhra Pradesh was mutual, said a TDP?leader on the condition of anonymity.

It was assessed that a tie-up could hurt the electoral prospects of both the parties as it happened in Telangana, the TDP leader said.

The Congress’s decision to go with the TDP in Telangana backfired and the Congress suffered a humiliating defeat at the hands of the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS). Voters had been wary of the TDP for staunchly opposing the 2014 bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh for the creation of Telangana .

“They [Congress] could damage us in Andhra Pradesh, the way we hurt them in Telangana. So, both parties are fine with going alone in the upcoming [Andhra] assembly and Lok Sabha polls,” the TDP leader added.

That will be the strategy in other states too, Naidu said.

While the Congress is averse to having an alliance with the Trinamool Congress (TMC) in West Bengal and the AAP in Delhi, Naidu has been trying hard to bring all the Opposition parties on one platform, insisting that the common goal is to oust the BJP in the Centre.

A second TDP leader said on condition of anonymity that there could be many “friendly fights” in Andhra, and even in West Bengal.

“We can also think of a common minimum programme at the national level,” this person added.

Andhra Pradesh will have simultaneous elections to the state assembly and the Lok Sabha.

Though the contest will be by and large triangular between the TDP, Congress and the YSR Congress Party of YS Jaganmohan Reddy, the BJP and movie star Pawan Kalyan’s Jana Sena are also trying to make their presence felt.

Reddy has stepped up pressure on the TDP over the unfulfilled demand for special category status to Andhra Pradesh.

Naidu walked out of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) in March last year, protesting against the Centre’s refusal to grant special category status to Andhra Pradesh. Since then, he has taken the lead in stitching up an alliance of Opposition parties as an alternative to the BJP-led NDA. Naidu hopes to retain Andhra Pradesh and win enough Lok Sabha seats to have a voice in an anti-Modi coalition in the Centre.

“We will win at least 20 out of the 25 Lok Sabha seats from Andhra Pradesh,” said Naidu’s son Nara Lokesh, who is a minister in his government. In yet another broadside against the BJP, opposition leaders are set to meet at a mega rally at Jantar Mantar in the national capital on Wednesday and seek to corner the Modi government on various issues. The rally is being organised by the Arvind Kejriwal-led AAP.

Gopal Rai, AAP Delhi convenor, said West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee, Naidu, former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda, National Conference (NC) leader Farooq Abdullah and NCP chief Sharad Pawar would attend the rally. Leaders from the Samajwadi Party (SP), Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) and other parties would address the rally, he said.