‘Democratic Compulsion’ to Defeat BJP Makes Rahul Gandhi and Chandrababu Naidu Forget Rivalry

New Delhi: In a major political re-alignment, erstwhile arch rivals Congress and the Telegu Desam Party have decided to join hands to bring about larger opposition unity for the formation of the anti-BJP front ahead of the next general elections.

“All opposition forces are going to work together to defend India and its institutions. We are not going into the past. We are going to talk about the present and the future,” Congress President Rahul Gandhi said after an hour-long meeting with Andhra Pradesh chief minister and TDP president Chandrababu Naidu in Delhi.

Naidu, who has been at the forefront of many alternative alliances at the centre, has taken the initiative to bring on board all opposition parties. He has already had a round of talks with BSP chief Mayawati, NCP President Sharad Pawar and others.

“It is a democratic compulsion now. We want to organise those who oppose the BJP. We want to bring them on a common platform and chalk out a common programme,” Naidu told reporters.

Both Naidu and Gandhi evaded a direct response to questions related to leadership issues of the alternative front. “Our aim is to defeat the BJP,” Gandhi said on being asked who would be the face of the non-BJP front.

The TDP and the Congress, rivals for over three decades, had already joined hands for the Telangana Assembly elections to defeat K Chandrashekar Rao’s TRS.

This was Naidu’s second visit to the capital within a week, and sources said he could make one visit every week for the next few months to cement the mahagathbandhan. He has been at the forefront of coalition politics on the national stage previously too, as he twice was the convenor of the grand opposition alliance – in 1995 and in 1998.

Since the TDP broke away from the NDA earlier this year over the Centre’s refusal to grant special category status to Andhra Pradesh, Naidu has lost no opportunity to attack Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his government.

With the constant attacks, political analysts say, Naidu hopes to amplify his opposition to Modi which would not only help him on the national stage, but also within Andhra Pradesh, which would also go to polls next year.

Simultaneously, he said he has no problem with being a part of a national alliance with the Congress, saying there could not be one without there being one national party in the mix. The stance has surprised observers as the Congress was seen as the villain behind the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh