Will He Be Opposition’s PM Face? NDTV Exclusive With Chandrababu Naidu

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Chandrababu Naidu maintains that KCR has been "instigating" the people in Telangana. (File)


Chandrababu Naidu, the self-styled facilitator for a united opposition to take on the BJP in next year's general elections, did not rule out the possibility of his becoming its prime ministerial candidate. Asked whether he would accept the top job is it was offered to him, Mr Naidu told NDTV's Prannoy Roy, "You are not going to discuss about PM candidate now. After election we are going to discuss PM candidate — that is our idea". Asked if he was ruling it out, he said, "No".

A victory for the Congress-Telugu Desam Party alliance is likely to thrust Mr Naidu to the limelight of opposition politics – he will be seen as the man who hit upon the formula to beat the BJP in a state where his own support base is seen to have been eroded.

Mr Naidu's base in the divided state has taken a beating after Telangana was carved out of Andhra Pradesh in 2014. Since then, 12 of his 15 lawmakers defected to the Telangana's ruling party, one went to the Congress.

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Mr Naidu, who is now contesting only 13 of Telangana's 119 seats, said the top job in the state would go to the Congress if the alliance wins. "They will decide among themselves," said Mr Naidu, referring to the Congress, which is contesting the rest.

The late-in-the-day alliance is seen to have upset Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao, who dissolved the state assembly eight months ahead of time to keep his pitch from being overtaken by the Congress-BJP battle for the next year's general elections.

KCR, as Mr Rao is popularly known, has alleged that Mr Naidu has "no policy at all". He has also accused Mr Naidu of playing some "crooked politics".

Mr Naidu maintains that Mr Rao has been "instigating" the people and trying to reduce the assembly elections into an Andhra Pradesh versus Telangana battle.

But he won't succeed, Mr Naidu said. "He (Mr Rao) is saying Andhra sentiments — Andhra Vs Telangana. It is no longer relevant… now his performance matters," Mr Naidu said.

That's where Mr Rao and his Telangana Rashtra Samithi have failed, Mr Naidu said.

The Telugu Desam Party leader said he was reminding the people that every developmental project in the undivided Andhra Pradesh was started by his government.

"What we have done is the development of Telangana. There is lot of development. Lot of them are getting development but they are misusing it, benefits are not being transferred to common man," Mr Naidu said.

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