BENGALURU: Amid a cheering crowd contained in a file behind police barricades outside his residence, former Prime Minister HD Devegowda welcomed Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu on Thursday. The two leaders, in the presence of Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy, discussed the need to bring all non-BJP parties on board in the run-up to the 2019 elections in an hour-long meeting at Devegowda's residence.
Thursday meeting was part of Naidu's continued efforts to hold talks with leaders of regional parties across the country to arrive at a consensus over a united front against the BJP.
Naidu, who visited AICC President Rahul Gandhi earlier this week, is scheduled to meet DMK Chief MK Stalin in Chennai on Friday.
Criticising the union government became the common ground of discussion between the three leaders who postured themselves in perfect harmony for cameras prior to the meeting and post it.
"You are interested in PM candidate or politics but I am only interested in safeguarding the constitution. All of us will decide," Naidu said when asked about his support to Rahul Gandhi as the Prime Ministerial face of the united opposition if there were one to be.
All three leaders spoke about the 'failures' of the union government and its alleged misuse of central agencies. "Country is paramount and not individuals. It is the responsibility of all secular parties including Congress to come together to defeat the NDA government," HD Devegowda said. The JD(S) supremo reiterated that Naidu had been holding talks with leaders like Sharad Pawar, Farooq Abdullah, Mayawati, Mamata Banerjee, MK Stalin as well as Rahul Gandhi to do his best to consolidate all secular parties.
Speaking to the media post the meeting, HD Kumaraswamy referred to Naidu as a 'coordinator' between regional parties. "Former PM Devegowda's guidance has been sought considering his seniority and experience. Naidu has taken the initiative of becoming a coordinator between parties to bring everyone on board. 2019 will see a repeat of 1996," HD Kumaraswamy said.
Naidu met HD Devegowda with the same intentions and at the same venue as his Telangana counterpart K Chandrashekhar Rao in April albeit without the Congress in the picture.
After Mamata Banerjee and KCR, it is not Naidu's turn to approach non-BJP parties for a consensus on a common front.
"We have a common objective. I have joined this momentum to save this country, democracy. I have spoken to Mayawati and Akhilesh. I am interested in consensus. Once I finish meeting everyone we will hold a meeting. This is just an initial exercise," Naidu said.