TDP chief Chandrababu Naidu holds hectic parleys on cobbling anti-BJP front coalition

New Delhi/Lucknow: TDP chief Chandrababu Naidu held a flurry of meetings with opposition leaders, including Congress president Rahul Gandhi, BSP’s Mayawati and SP leader Akhilesh Yadav, in an apparent bid to rally support for a non-BJP government at the Centre.

Naidu, who arrived in the national capital on Friday, also met Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar, Loktantrik Janata Dal leader Sharad Yadav and leaders of the Communist Party of India. He then flew to Lucknow and met Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party chiefs.

“It is a pleasure to welcome CM Chandrababu Naidu Ji to Lucknow,” Akhilesh Yadav tweeted. The Andhra Pradesh chief minister did not speak to the media after any of his meetings. Sources, however, said Naidu and Gandhi discussed the possibility of forming a joint alliance of all opposition parties.

He told Gandhi to have a strategy ready, in case the NDA falls short of a majority and still stakes claim to form the government, the sources said. Naidu told all the leaders that “we all should come together and put our act together” to form the next government by keeping the BJP out, a source said.

Later, Gandhi, former PM Manmohan Singh and other Congress leaders met at UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi’s residence to evolve party’s strategy. “The campaigning of this LS election has ended and as we await the last phase of polling, Andhra CM Chandrababu Naidu paid me a visit to discuss the ongoing and future political scenario of our country,” Pawar tweeted.

Naidu met CPI leader G Sudhakar Reddy and D Raja over breakfast, asking them to “come together”. Reddy and Raja separately met Pawar at his residence. The TDP chief has held several rounds of discussion with opposition leaders, including TMC chief Mamata Banerjee, AAP national convener Arvind Kejriwal and CPI (M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury.

Naidu’s TDP was a part of NDA, but quit the alliance a few months ago. On Friday, Naidu said not only TRS but any outfit which is against BJP is welcome to join a grand alliance after the election results are declared on May 23. Meanwhile, the Congress leadership has urged NCP supremo Sharad Pawar (78) to station himself in Delhi to put together all secular forces, amid speculation Rahul may even suggest he be the PM in recognition of his seniority.

A top Congress source said Rahul wants Pawar to play a catalyst role to unite the non-BJP parties as soon as the results start pouring in next Thursday. He said Rahul was careful in his Friday press meet to steer clear of the questions on who could be the PM as he wants the picture to be clear only after counting on May 23.

Naidu would not mind tying up with even the rival TRS of Telangana CM K Chandrasekhar Rao. Also, the Congress leadership on Saturday got its act together with Sonia stepping in and formulating the party’s strategy for government formation. As opposition leaders scramble to form a joint anti-BJP front, hectic deliberations among them are likely to continue in the days ahead.

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