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Published On: Sat, May 18th, 2019

After Rahuli, Naidu Meets Akhilesh Yadav, Mayawati

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_2ecd290c-ebfd-11e8-8d4e-8c144d313201NEW DELHI/ LUCKNOW/ AP :Even before the last vote was polled in the current Lok Sabha election, the two rival Telugu biddas — Andhra Pradesh chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu and his Telangana counterpart K Chandrashekar Rao — were locked in competition to emerge as kingmakers of an opposition coalition.

TDP chief N Chandrababu Naidu Saturday met leaders of the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party in Lucknow, continuing his efforts to put together a coalition to form the next government at the Centre.
He reached the Uttar Pradesh capital in the evening after meetings in New Delhi with Congress president Rahul Gandhi, CPI leaders G Sudhakar Reddy and D Raja, Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar and Loktantrik Janata Dal leader Sharad Yadav.

The separate meetings with SP president Akhilesh Yadav and BSP chief Mayawati take place a day before polling in the last phase of elections. The SP, BSP and RLD are in alliance in UP, taking on the BJP in the politically crucial state that sends 80 MPs to Parliament.

Naidu on Saturday met Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav and his alliance partner Mayawati in Lucknow, hours after he discussed firming up a non-BJP front with Congress President Rahul Gandhi in the national capital. He also met Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar.
The Telugu Desam Party (TDP) Chief’s efforts come ahead of a mega meet of opposition leaders on May 23, hosted by UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, to prepare for the possibility of a less than decisive verdict.
Mr Naidu, 69, met CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) chief Arvind Kejriwal on Friday and discussed with them the possibility of a tie-up in the post-results scenario.

“We welcome not only the TRS but any party which is against the BJP. We are welcoming all such parties to be a part of our grand alliance,” Mr Naidu had said on Friday, when asked about whether the Congress-led alliance will join hands with Telangana Rashtra Samithi chief K Chandrashekar Rao.
K Chandrashekar Rao, a bitter rival of Mr Naidu, has been busy with his own mission, to try and organise a non-Congress, non-BJP front. He also met with DMK President MK Stalin, who has openly endorsed Congress chief Rahul Gandhi for prime minister.

He was greeted with a bouquet by Akhilesh Yadav. The two leaders then went into a closed door meeting, SP sources said. Later, Naidu drove to Mayawati’s Mall Road Avenue residence, sources said.

The Andhra Pradesh chief minister has already held several rounds of discussions with various opposition leaders, including Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee, Aam Aadmi Party convenor Arvind Kejriwal and CPI (M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury. His TDP had been a part of the BJP-led NDA and had quit the alliance a few months ago.
KCR, on the other hand, has an ally in Jaganmohan Reddy of the YSR Congress and believes that Odisha chief minister and Biju Janata Dal head Naveen Patnaik is also in his side of the corner. He recently air dashed to Chennai to meet Stalin, called on Kerala chief minister P Vijayan and is planning to speak to other regional satraps

The Telangana chief minister is seeking to convince the other leaders that the country is heading for a 1996-like situation when the regional parties were in a position to form a government and have their own prime minister, even forcing the Congress to lend outside support to this formation.
So far, KCR’s endeavours have met with limited success as Stalin was lukewarm to his suggestion, stating that his party will not snap ties with the Congress and instead invited the TRS chief to join their coalition.
KCR has undoubtedly grown in confidence after he swept the assembly polls last year, virtually decimating the opposition in Telangana. But he has also earned the reputation of being untrustworthy. It is suspected that he was acting on the behest of the BJP when he suddenly decided last year to work for the formation of a Federal Front.
Though not a member of the NDA, the Telangana chief minister has taken care to remain on the right side of the Modi government over the past five years, lending it full support in Parliament.
KCR is clearly keeping his options open. In case the Congress wins a respectable number of seats to be able to anchor an anti-BJP opposition front, KCR would not like to be left out of the side which is most likely to call the shots at the Centre.
Unlike KCR, who has the advantage of establishing himself and his party as the dominant force in Telangana, Naidu is on shaky ground in his home state as he faces a tough challenge from a resurgent YSR Congress. Consequently, it has become imperative for him to be seen as a key player on the national stage so as to remain politically relevant.
But Naidu, unlike the TRS chief, has the advantage of having played the role of forging unity among opposition forces in the past. Naidu had assisted the late CPM general secretary Harkishan Singh Surjeet in the formation of the United Front in 1996 and had worked alongside other senior leaders in the ouster of the Vajpayee-led government in 2004.
With less than a week to go for the declaration of election results, it is to be seen whether it is Naidu or KCR who will emerge kingmaker. Or they may well be beaten to it by former Congress president Sonia Gandhi who has also reached out to opposition leaders with the express purpose of putting up a united show if case the numbers favour them. (With Inputs from AP, Lkw, Telangana).



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