Politics
The Chief Ministers of Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, and JD(S) supremo HD Deve Gowda met in Bengaluru to discuss the formation of a third front ahead of the 2019 general elections.

“After Chandrababu Naidu’s entry into Delhi politics, and after meeting with him today, I think 1996 will be repeated in the 2019 elections,” said Karnataka CM HD Kumaraswamy after meeting with Andhra Pradesh CM Nara Chandrababu Naidu in Bengaluru on Thursday.

Chandrababu Naidu arrived at JD(S) supremo and former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda’s Padmanabhanagar residence at 4 pm to hold talks with the leaders regarding the "third front." The Andhra Pradesh CM has held talks with several opposition leaders regarding the formation of a third front to fight the upcoming general elections in 2019, and this meeting marks his latest efforts.

Speaking to the media, Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy said that in order to strengthen the secular political parties in the country, the leaders of the regional parties had come together to form the third front and Chandrababu Naidu was willing to join the alliance too. He also hinted at Deve Gowda’s aspirations to become the Prime Minister once again.

“In order to strengthen the secular political parties, we have come together. Chandrababu Naidu and Deve Gowda’s political arithmetic is good. He (Chandrababu Naidu) is not projecting himself as a leader, he is coordinating to bring all leaders from regional parties and even Congress leaders to come together on one platform. After Chandrababu’s entry into Delhi politics, I think 1996 will be repeated in the 2019 election too,” Kumaraswamy said.

Kumaraswamy was referring to the third front’s alliance in 1996, when Deve Gowda was made the Prime Minister.

Deve Gowda also addressed the media, saying that Chandrababu Naidu is coordinating the effort to consolidate all secular parties “so we can come together and remove the NDA government from power in 2019.”

“Country is paramount and party is secondary. The Congress must also support this. 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," Deve Gowda said.

Speaking to the media after the meeting, CM Chandrababu Naidu said, “The central institutions like the CBI are being controlled. Economy is in trouble, petrol prices are increasing day by day. Economists have predicted that the devaluation of Indian currency will reach Rs 76 per dollar. Our economy is in doldrums and farmers are in trouble.”

The Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister said that minority communities are being threatened in this country and that he has decided to join hands with secular parties to “save democracy” in India.

“Minorities are in trouble and they are facing a lot of pressure. It is our responsibility to save the country, to save democracy and to save our country’s constitution. I met with Deve Gowda ji and I agree with him. I need his guidance. I have joined this momentum to save this country,” he said.

Chandrababu Naidu also openly stated that he has no objections to AICC President Rahul Gandhi being named the next Prime Ministerial candidate for the 2019 general elections.

Lashing out at the media for questioning his motive for joining the third front, Chandrababu Naidu said that the media was only interested in “PM candidate and politics.”

“You are interested in who the PM candidate and politics. I am interested in saving democracy. The media in Delhi is not reporting about the ruling parties. You (media) are not supporting opposition parties. Never have you supported opposition parties. There is immense pressure on you too. I know Modi will control you,” Chandrababu Naidu said.

When questioned about the third front’s plan to tackle the ruling party, Chandrababu Naidu said that his meeting with Deve Gowda and CM Kumaraswamy was a preliminary one and that the leaders of the third front are yet to formulate a plan to unite all opposition parties.

“Opposition parties will come together and fight this. When Deve Gowda became the Prime Minister, the third front triumphed. Apart from that, the Congress or BJP have been the major parties in national politics. I have spoken with Mayawati and Akhilesh Yadav as well. I am meeting DMK leader Stalin tomorrow (Friday). Everyone will come together. Currently, there is no organization. We will have a meeting and decide how to go forward,” he said.

Earlier in October, Chandrababu Naidu had held talks with Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and BSP leader Mayawati and National Conference leader Farooq Abdullah regarding the formation of the third front. The Andhra Pradesh CM had said that opposition parties have political and ideological compulsions, but they have to move forward to defeat the BJP in the Lok Sabha elections.

The TDP leader also met Loktrantrik Janata Dal leader Sharad Yadav and former Union minister Yashwant Sinha as part of his efforts to bring together opposition parties against the Modi government in the 2019 elections. Naidu also called on CPI leaders D Raja and S Sudhakar Reddy at Capital's Andhra Bhawan.

Naidu, whose party had quit the Modi government and the ruling National Democratic Alliance earlier this year, accused it of targeting opposition leaders. His sudden friendship with the Congress also marks a dramatic shift in the Telugu Desam Party, which was founded on the anti-Congress plank.

When Prime Minister Narendra Modi began warming up to YSRCP led by YS Jaganmohan Reddy, Naidu saw a threat to himself. He pulled out of the NDA, accusing Modi of betraying the people of Andhra Pradesh by going back on the promise to accord it special category status.