New Delhi: To say that Nara Chandrababu Naidu is a busy man these days would be a gross understatement. After adhering to a hectic campaigning schedule in his state Andhra Pradesh, the CM is now leading efforts to cobble up an alliance of 21 parties with one common goal – to keep Narendra Modi and the BJP from coming back to power.
With other leaders, including NCP leader Sharad Pawar too trying to assume the role of convener, Naidu lost no time after elections in Andhra Pradesh and rushed to Delhi on May 16. He went straight to the Election Commission office and registered strong objection to the re-polling ordered in a few seats in his state. Immediately after stepping out of the EC office, the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) chief began his political tour.
Naidu started with the CPM first and met Sitaram Yechury at the party’s Gol Market office. In a meeting that lasted over an hour, discussions ranged from EVM issues, poll code violation and what the opposition needs to do to keep ahead. Yechury reportedly gave Naidu his word that he would personally be present for any meeting on government formation.
Naidu’s next pit stop was the residence of Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal. Apart from the AAP chief, his deputy Manish Sisodia and Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Singh were present in the meeting wherein Kejriwal is said to have agreed that an alliance in Delhi with the Congress would have helped the Mahagathbandhan. However, he was still hopeful for decent outing in the national capital. Sources said discussions also ranged from AAP prospects in Haryana and Punjab, and Kejriwal further reiterated his support for the larger cause of opposition unity.
Saturday also started on a busy note. CPI leader Sudhakar Reddy made a quick visit to Naidu at AP Bhawan. Naidu then called on Congress chief Rahul Gandhi at the latter's residence. At the meeting that lasted for about an hour, discussion focussed mostly on the strategy ahead and how to swiftly stake claim to government formation should the numbers appear favourable.
Naidu's next meeting was with NCP chief Sharad Pawar who flew down from Maharashtra. Detailed discussion on the meetings held so far and expectations from other parties topped the agenda.
Naidu also met Sharad Yadav who welcomed the initiative taken to unite the opposition.
A break for lunch and around 3pm Naidu set off on the most important part of his political yatra. He landed in Lucknow at 4pm and headed straight to the Samajwadi Party office to meet party chief Akhilesh Yadav. A meeting that lasted for about an hour, the duo discussed poll violence and “partial approach” of the EC. Akhilesh was confident that the alliance would get 50 out of 80 seats in Uttar Pradesh. He also said his party would support any effort of the opposition aimed at keeping Modi out. Sources in SP said Akhilesh confirmed his attendance for the meeting in Delhi scheduled next week.
The TDP chief next went to meet BSP supremo Mayawati. A rarity for ‘Behenji’ to meet any opposition politician in recent times, Naidu and Mayawati held a one-on-one meet for around 90 minutes. Sources privy to the meeting said that not only did Mayawati agree that all parties need to come together to keep the BJP away, she also confirmed to Naidu that she would be present for an opposition gathering in Delhi next week. A highly confident Mayawati said the Gathbandhan would get 60 out of 80 seats in UP, sources said.
Naidu returned to Delhi from UP on Saturday night, happy after a good meeting with the BSP and SP leadership. On Sunday morning, he met both Rahul Gandhi and Sharad Pawar, sharing his feedback from the UP visit. He also met Yechury again, their second meeting in 24 hours. A crucial meeting with UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi on Sunday evening is also on Naidu's agenda.
While TRS chief and Telangana CM K Chandrashekar Rao has made attempts to reach out to parties in the opposition camp to stitch together a non-Congress, non BJP front, he hasn’t had a headway so far with parties like the DMK whose chief MK Stalin he met last week and Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan whom he met before that.
Issues upfront for the Mahagathbandhan are to pick a PM candidate. They would also like to see the numbers they can add up to their tally and act swiftly to stake claim to form the government should the situation be favourable. Meetings lined up for May 22 and 23 will assume significance only if the BJP and the NDA take a hit in numbers.