Mission Team Opposition took Andhra Pradesh chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu today to Bengaluru, where he met his Karnataka counterpart HD Kumaraswamy and his father and former prime minister HD Deve Gowda of the Janata Dal (Secular).
The hour-long meeting, scheduled earlier, came two days after results of by-elections to five seats in the state were announced. The Congress-JD(S) coalition won four seats, defeating the Bharatiya Janata Party even in its stronghold of Ballari. The partners are holding up the victory as a glimpse of the impact that an opposition alliance can have next year, with the Congress describing it as a “teaser for 2019.”
Naidu – currently meeting opposition leaders of all hue in an attempt to build a national alliance to take on the BJP in the 2019 Lok Sabha election – said after today’s meeting that the bypoll results in Karnataka had boosted his endeavour to unite the opposition. “What happened in Karnataka? [The coalition] swept the elections and that shows the mood of the nation. We will all discuss together how to take this forward,” he said.
All three leaders addressed reporters together after their meeting at Deve GOwda’s residence. “This meeting was conducted to strengthen the hands of all secular forces for the nation. After Chandrababu Naidu’s return to national politics, I feel 1996 will be repeated again in 2019,” Kumaraswamy said, referring to a third front government formed that year with Deve Gowda at its head.
He said that the meeting was part of a series of initiatives being taken by regional leaders and that they had also been invited to attend a public event planned by west Bengal chief minister Mamata Bannerjee in January.
Deve Gowda said it was the responsibility of secular parties to band together to defeat the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance, accusing Prime Minister Narendra Modi of “destabilising”constitutional institutions. “In this regard, Chandrababu Naidu has taken the lead and has met Rahul Gandhi, regional leaders like Sharad Pawar (Nationalist Congress Party), Farooq Abdullah (National Conference), Mayawati (Bahujan Samaj Party), Mamata Bannerjee (Triamool Congress) and MK Stalin (Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam),” the xx-year-old former PM said.
Naidu, who met Rahul GAndhi last week in what the latter called the meeting “momentous”, has been in touch with the JD(S) since Kumaraswamy became chief minister in May and had held talks with Deve Gowda before the assembly elections. The Andhra CM, who is the boss of the Telugu DEsam Party, was a BJP ally till March this year, when he exited the NDA over his state not being granted special status.
Today he said the economy is in the doldrums, highlighting that it was the second anniversary of the prime minister’s decision to demonestise Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes in 2016. “Two years ago, they did the demonetisation and no results have come. On the other hand, the economy is in trouble, with petrol prices increasing day by day. The devaluation of the rupee has meant that it is trading at 73 to a dollar and economists expect it to reach 76. Devaluation and demonetisation have ensured that the economy is in doldrums,” he said.
He also said that the primary task at the moment was protecting democracy and the nation, and autonomous institutions, which he alleged were under threat. “People like us have to join together to save the nation and democracy. All institutions are being destroyed, the CBI, which was a premier instution for probing corruption,” he said. “The Reserve Bank of India was an autonomous regulatory body, but it, too, is under threat now, Naidu said.
He also alleged that the ruling BJP is “using institutions to harass the opposition,” adding, “We have seen this in Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.”
First Published: Nov 08, 2018 20:18 IST