BENGALURU: Amid a cheering crowd contained in a file behind police barricades outside his residence, former Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda welcomed Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu on Thursday.
The two leaders, in the presence of Chief Minister H D 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 Gowda’s residence.
The meeting was part of Naidu’s continued efforts to hold talks with leaders of regional parties across the country to arrive at consensus over a united front against the BJP. Naidu, who met Congress chief Rahul Gandhi earlier this week, will meet DMK chief M K Stalin in Chennai on Friday.
Criticising the Centre 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 as the PM face of the united opposition if there were one to be.
Kumaraswamy said, “Gowda’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.”
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,” Gowda said.
He reiterated that Naidu had been holding talks with opposition leaders like Sharad Pawar, Farooq Abdullah, Mayawati, Mamata Banerjee, Stalin and Rahul Gandhi to do his best to consolidate all secular parties.
Naidu met Gowda 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 now 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.
Naidu said the Union government had been misusing autonomous and investigative institutions for vindictive politics.
“Autonomous bodies, investigative agencies are under threat. ED, IT are being used to control the opposition. Raids are being carried out indiscriminately to harass politicians in UP, Bihar, TN, Telangana, Karnataka,” Naidu said.
Reminiscing that demonetisation was announced exactly two years ago, Naidu said that the economy was in the doldrums.
“Demonetisation was done two years ago and no good has come out of it. Fuel prices are being hiked continuously. Farmers are in distress, minorities are under pressure and insecure. It is our responsibility to join together and save institutions, constitution and democracy,” he said.