Telugu Desam Party (TDP) chief Chandrababu Naidu will be in Delhi on October 19 to seek President APJ Abdul Kalam's intervention in getting Chief Minister YS Rajashekhara Reddy (YSR) to resign following the Supreme Court's strictures that his government had acted unconstitutionally in pardoning Congressman G Venkata Reddy, convicted in the murder of two TDP activists.
Naidu has picked up the "pardon" issue to galvanise his cadres who have yet to recover from their shock defeat at the hands of the Congress in the 2004 assembly elections in Andhra Pradesh. But there is more than just state politics involved in the exercise.
Naidu told Hindustan Times from Hyderabad that he has invited leaders from some other states and parties to accompany him when he calls on Kalam, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and other "like minded" leaders to submit a memorandum against YSR's "illegal act" of pardoning Venkata Reddy.
The memorandum, which will also refer to 1500 crore Outer Ring Road scandal in Hyderabad, will be given to all MPs as the TDP intends to raise this issue in Parliament as well.
"Our objective is to sensitise the nation on how he misused Article 161 while recommending to then Governor Sushilkumar Shinde that Venkata Reddy be pardoned," Naidu said, adding: "Morally and ethically, the chief ministers should step down."
He recalled how Buta Singh had to be removed as Governor when the Supreme Court criticised him for dissolving the Bihar Assembly.
The TDP leader, who was the arch-stone of the non-Congress non-BJP United Front that ruled at the Centre between 1996-98, has invited Samajwadi Party (SP) chief and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav, Assam Gana Parishad leader B Goswami, Indian National Lok Dal president and former chief minister of Haryana Om Prakash Chautala and Akali Dal's SS Dhindsa to join the delegation.
In seeking their company, the TDP chief sought to signal that the third front has not gone to seed. In fact, should the SP win the 2007 assembly polls in UP, both Naidu and Mulayam are likely to re-double their ongoing efforts to get the non–Congress, non-BJP forces together again before the country heads for another general election in 2009.
The Congress, meanwhile, refused to see the Supreme Court's verdict as a "setback" for the chief minister. "There are so many cases in which state governments decisions are reversed by Courts. The Andhra government, in its wisdom, recommended pardon (for Venkata Reddy) and the Governor approved it. If the Court has reversed the decision, the state government too has the option of applying for a review or accepting the verdict," said Digvijay Singh, All India Congress Committee general secretary who in charge of Andhra Pradesh.
He denied that the Court had passed any strictures against the chief minister.
Singh replied in the negative when asked whether he had discussed the state government's options with the chief minister. "It is not a political matter but an administrative decision," he said.