Naidu rules out Delhi role

Naidu in New Delhi. Picture by Prem Singh 

New Delhi: Andhra Pradesh chief minister N. Chandrababu Naidu on Saturday ruled himself out of playing any role personally at the Centre after the next general election, but foresaw a place for the Telugu Desam Party in national politics.

He said he would continue fighting the Narendra Modi government to seek justice for the people of his state.

Naidu had arrived in Delhi on Saturday to address a news conference to counter the jibes the Prime Minister had levelled against him during Friday's no-confidence debate in the Lok Sabha.

The chief minister, whose party had initiated the no-confidence motion over the Centre's "betrayal" of its promise to grant special category status to Andhra, was visibly smarting over the personal attack from Modi.

"You may have the majority but morality is with us," he asserted.

Modi had alleged that Naidu had quit the NDA because of his "internal politics with the YSR Congress" and that he had warned the Desam leader he was falling into the trap of entering "a race of one-upmanship with the YSR Congress".

The Prime Minister had compared Andhra's performance unfavourably with Telangana's and showered praise on chief minister K. Chandrashekar Rao for focusing on developing his state rather than indulge in politicking like the Desam. He had insinuated that Rao was more mature than Naidu.

Desam sources said Naidu would be calling up the leaders of the parties that had supported the no-confidence motion. Asked whether these parties would include the Congress, which had supported the motion, they said he wouldn't.

"We had reached out only to the non-Congress, non-BJP parties in the first place; so he will only speak to them," a source said.

Asked at the news conference whether the Desam would be open to working with the Congress since it had supported the motion, Naidu replied: "In India, there are some compulsions for political parties. They are fighting in different states with different political parties.... They will take (a decision on the basis of) their own comfort or convenience."

Naidu, however, insisted more than once that his future lay in Andhra. "I want to create a development model for the country," was his response to a question whether he had prime ministerial ambitions.

"I'm not a pretender; I'm not expecting any post in Delhi. I had an opportunity back in 1995.... I'm not a contender nor an aspirant for any post in Delhi," Naidu added.

He underlined his past role as kingmaker: "I have formed so many governments, starting with the National Front (in 1989-91) under my father-in-law (N.T. Rama Rao). I started, I created the United Front (1996-98), supported the NDA under Vajpayeeji. Never have I created problems for anybody."#Asked whether he saw Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee as a potential prime ministerial candidate, Naidu refused to be drawn. He quipped that the journalist who had asked the question was looking to create problems.

Naidu and Mamata are said to have been in regular contact since the Desam left the NDA earlier this year.


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