‘Repeat of 1996’: Naidu meets Deve Gowda, HDK

BENGALURU: Andhra Pradesh chief minister and Telugu Desam Party (TDP) supremo N Chandrababu Naidu wants to repeat a 1996 United Third Front formula in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections to prevent Prime Minister Narendra Modi from returning to power, with former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda being the senior moderator.

Naidu, who is on a ‘sampark for samarthan’ of his own, is meeting opposition leaders across the country in his bid to stitch an alliance (mahagathbandhan) to take on BJP ahead of the Lok Sabha elections.

As part of his efforts to unite the opposition, the TDP chief today met Gowda and Karnataka chief minister H D Kumaraswamy and reportedly exhorted the JD(S) leaders to be part of his mission and take a lead in his campaign.

The offer was reciprocated by Gowda and Kumaraswamy with open arms since they have already successfully experimented it in the recently bypolls in Karnataka by aligning with the Congress. The coalition won two out of the three Lok Sabha seats and both the assembly seats, which is now being seen as a national template for the opposition parties to fight the BJP in the general elections.

“Naidu has taken the lead and met several leaders to consolidate all secular parties against the BJP. He has done it before in 1996 and I am confident that he repeats it again in 2019,” a visibly elated Kumarswamy said at a joint press conference with Naidu and Gowda after an hour-long meeting. This was also reiterated by Naidu and Gowda.

In the 1996 Lok Sabha elections, the TDP, Janata Dal and Samajwadi Party formed a non-BJP and non-Congress coalition to contest in the polls, popularly known as Third Front. The Congress-led by P V Narasimha Rao lost power and decided to extend outside support to the one headed by Gowda, which lasted for 10 months.

However, there appeared to be a lack consensus over PM candidate between Gowda and Naidu. While Gowda has been batting for a Mahagathbandhan led by AICC president Rahul Gandhi, Naidu said the PM will be collectively decided by all non-BJP parties later.
“We are uniting to save democracy, institutions and Constitution of the country and not really for power,” Naidu said. “Country is paramount and party is secondary. Congress will join us. Although the BJP is in power in so many states, they have not done anything. The Congress will do well in Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh,” Gowda said

Naidu had held talks with Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal and BSP leader Mayawati and National Conference leader Farooq Abdullah regarding the formation of the third front and claimed that it has been so far been “very positive”. “I am planning to meet DMK leader M K Stalin on Friday and seek his cooperation too,’’ he added.

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