“Idea Is To Defeat BJP”: Rahul Gandhi, Chandrababu Naidu Join Hands

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Chandrababu Naidu met Rahul Gandhi in New Delhi.

New Delhi:

Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu today met with Congress president Rahul Gandhi in Delhi, and declared later that it was a "democratic compulsion" to join in the fight against the ruling BJP. "We have decided to put the past behind. The idea is to defeat the BJP," Rahul Gandhi said, addressing reporters jointly with Mr Naidu outside his Tughlaq Lane home.

"We have a past. Both of us agreed that we are not going to talk about our past and talk about our future," the Congress president said, to questions on their bitter rivalry.

Mr Naidu is partnering the Congress for the coming assembly elections in Telangana and met Rahul Gandhi to take forward the talks on a broader opposition alliance for the next year's general elections.

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Recently, the Telugu Desam Party chief was also invited to join the UPA by senior Congress leader Veerappa Moily.

Mr Naidu, who split from the NDA in March, has taken over the role of a "facilitator" for a broader opposition unity and met Sharad Pawar and Farooq Abdullah earlier today.

The TDP has traditionally been in the anti-Congress camp – both in the state and outside. In the late 1990s, he has contested state elections in alliance with the Left parties, in 1999 and 2004 and also in 2014, it was the BJP. In 2009, the TDP was with the Telangana Rashtra Samiti against the Congress.

Mr Naidu's recent shift in policy – playing a key role in the opposition at the side of the Congress – marks a complete turnaround. To a party worker, Mr Naidu is said to have admitted that it is "political compulsion" that the TDP must join hands with the Congress and other non-BJP parties, to "save the nation" and "defeat the BJP".

State leaders indicate that the compulsion lies in politics closer home.

In face of anti-incumbency on one hand and a possible friendship between arch-rival Jagan Mohan Reddy and the BJP on the other, Mr Naidu needs friends.

A partnership with the Congress can bring an incremental vote share and – his party hopes – help split the Reddy vote, which is often described as the strength of Jagan Mohan Reddy's YSR Congress.

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