The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
Email This PagePrint This Page
Naidu mulls walking minus crutches

Hyderabad, Dec. 4: The Telugu Desam Party is preparing the ground to strike out on its own, without either the BJP or the Congress.

Desam president N. Chandrababu Naidu held brainstorming sessions with his MPs and politburo for the past two weeks over their future course. The BJP’s as well as the National Conference’s defeat in the Jammu and Kashmir polls has apparently prompted the move.

With polls barely six months away, Naidu has warned his party politburo against attending any meeting of BJP leaders, both in Andhra Pradesh and Delhi.

The BJP’s aloofness during the Hyderabad iftars was perhaps a signal of the future trend. “We were not invited and neither did we have any inclination to attend them (iftars),” said BJP legislator and general-secretary K. Lakshman.

After the Jammu and Kashmir polls, Naidu had sent emissaries to prominent regional parties such as the DMK, the Rashtriya Janata Dal, the Nationalist Congress Party, the Shiromani Akali Dal, the Janata Dal and the Trinamul Congress.

Even National Conference’s Farooq Abdullah was reportedly keen to join hands with Naidu.

Naidu has kicked off his war of attrition with the BJP with an attack on the Centre for “meagre” drought relief to Andhra in November. The Gujarat polls in mind, this is to set the mood for alienation from the NDA.

Naidu has accused the BJP of being cowed down by Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s misguided fusillade. “It’s unfortunate that the NDA believes in the Congress’s Goebbels campaign,” he said. The outburst came soon after the Centre rejected his demand for more rice for Andhra drought relief.

Left leaders, bitter about Naidu’s past attitude, have been silent, hoping he would strengthen the People’s Front pushed forward by CPM patriarch Jyoti Basu.

Naidu, however, has not shown any interest in discussing future moves with CPM’s Sitaram Yechuri. Last month, Yechuri had twice sent out cooperation signals to the Desam.

Samata Party’s George Fernandes, an NDA ally, has met Naidu twice. The Andhra chief minister had last month visited Delhi to discuss the likelihood of a third front.

On earlier Delhi visits, Naidu had met Samajwadi Party’s Amar Singh and Janata Dal (U)’s Sharad Yadav. Naidu is likely to visit Delhi again before Christmas, when like-minded party leaders, including NDA allies, may gather and work towards a new front.

Desam political analyst Umareddy Venkateswarlu is drafting a strategy paper on another incarnation of a non-Congress opposition front. He has been discussing the issue with national opposition leaders.

If it materialises, a non-Congress opposition front would have been created a fifth time in the last 20 years.

“Learning from past mistakes,” Venkateswarlu said, “we want to prepare a pucca strategy and platform so we can involve and accommodate small and big opposition parties in the new front.

“But we will be firm against the Congress and the BJP. It will be a firm no for both of them.”

Email This PagePrint This Page