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1996 encore? Chandrababu Naidu meets Deve Gowda, ducks question on PM candidate for 2019

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi | Updated: November 8, 2018 7:54:20 pm
From right to left: Former prime minister H D Deve Gowda, N Chandrababu Naidu, H D Kumaraswamy in Bengaluru on Thursday. (Source: @ncbn/Twitter)

Setting the stage for the revival of a united front against the BJP ahead of 2019 elections, Telugu Desam Party chief and Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu on Thursday met former prime minister H D Deve Gowda and his Karnataka counterpart Kumaraswamy in Bengaluru.

Naidu claimed the mood of the nation was against the BJP-led NDA and soon an alliance would be formed with various regional parties.

Speaking to reporters after meeting Deve Gowda and Kumaraswamy, Naidu said the initial steps for the formation of the alliance were yet to be finalised.

Once the modalities were fixed, programmes would be chalked out later, he said. “I have spoken to Mayawati, Akhilesh Yadav. I have met everybody. Tomorrow I am meeting Stalin (DMK president). We will decide how to take forward the alliance with consensus. It is an initial exercise. After that we will work together,” he said.

Naidu, who had been a staunch critic of Congress, was not averse to taking it along for the “grand alliance.” However, he ducked questions on their prime ministerial candidate.

“Congress is a major opposition party,” he said, pointing out that Deve Gowda became prime minister with support of the Congress from outside in 1996. “… Congress is a main anchor,” Naidu added.

In the 1996 Lok Sabha elections, the TDP, Janata Dal and Samajwadi Party formed a non-BJP and non-Congress coalition to contest in the polls. The Congress-led by P V Narasimha Rao lost power and decided to extend outside support to the one headed by Deve Gowda.

“AP CM N Chandrababu Naidu has taken the lead and met several leaders to consolidate all secular parties to remove NDA government in 2019. He met me and H D Kumaraswamy today to work out further strategy,” Gowda told reporters.

Referring to the crisis in the CBI and the Centre’s stand-off with the RBI, Gowda said “The NDA, under the leadership of PM Modi, has created so many problems including destabilising constitutionally created institutions. Now, it is the responsibility of all secular parties including Congress to come together to replace NDA government.”

His son Kumaraswamy expressed confidence that the 2019 polls will see a repeat of the 1996 result, when a united opposition had formed the government and Gowda had become the prime minister.

“I think 1996 will be repeated in 2019 elections.,” he said, adding Gowda and Naidu are old friends and their arithmetic is good.

The meeting comes days after the Congress-JD (S) coalition won four out of the five seats that went to bypolls in Karnataka. The BJP has managed to hold on to the Shivamogga Lok Sabha seat after losing Bellary, a stronghold of the controversial Reddy brothers. The coalition won two out of the three Lok Sabha seats and both the assembly seats in a fiercely contested bypolls.

with PTI inputs


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