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Anti-BJP Opposition front’s meet after state elections: Chandrababu Naidu

Mamata Banerjee said parties were busy with state polls.

india Updated: Nov 19, 2018 23:33 IST
Sumanta Ray Chaudhuri
Sumanta Ray Chaudhuri
Hindustan Times, Kolkata
Anti-BJP Opposition front,Opposition meet,Chandrababu Naidu
Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu met his West Bengal counterpart Mamata Banerjee on Monday at West Bengal secretariat Nabanna in Howrah near Kolkata on November 19, 2018. (Samir Jana / Hindustan Times)

The November 22 meeting of non-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders in Delhi has been deferred until December because of the polls in five states, Andhra Pradesh chief minister Chandrababu Naidu and his West Bengal counterpart, Mamata Banerjee, said on Monday.

“The new date (for the meeting) will be announced soon. It will be held before Parliament’s (winter) session (that begins on December 15). We will chalk out a programme to move forward with the parties opposed to the BJP,” Naidu said after an 80-minute meeting with Banerjee as part of their efforts to form an anti-BJP coalition ahead of the national elections due next year.

Banerjee echoed him. “Right now everybody is busy with the (state) elections,’’ she said, referring to the elections in Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Mizoram, Rajasthan, and Telangana. The election results will be announced on December 11. Banerjee said they will meet after the elections.

Naidu said he will attend Banerjee’s show of strength at a rally on January 19 in Kolkata. Banerjee reiterated that barring “one or two parties (like her arch-rival Communist Party of India-Marxist)”, all opposition parties have confirmed their participation in the rally.

Naidu said they will speak to Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati, who has indicated that she will not be a part of their alliance. “Those opposing the BJP, those who want to save this nation, will work together.”

The Congress’s failure to tie up with the BSP in the poll-bound states, particularly in Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh, is seen as a setback to the efforts for forging the anti-BJP alliance.

Naidu said many of them are senior to Prime Minister Narendra Modi as administrators when asked about the possible face of the anti-BJP front. He added all of them are better than Modi.

Banerjee said everybody will be the face of their mahagathbandhan (grand alliance). “We are working together to save the nation,” said Banerjee, who has earlier met opposition leaders like Telangana chief minister K Chandrashekhar Rao as part of her efforts to explore the possibility of forming an anti-BJP front.

Naidu touched upon issues like the demonetisation of ~500 and ~1,000 currency notes in 2016, rising prices of petrol, the impact of inflation on the economy, unemployment, poor state of agriculture and intolerance towards minorities. The Opposition has been critical of the BJP-led government over these issues.

The BJP scoffed at the meeting. “Neither Naidu has a single vote in this state (West Bengal), nor Mamata Banerjee has a single vote in Andhra Pradesh. Those who were involved in cases of corruption are now getting together to obstruct the CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation),” said BJP national secretary Rahul Sinha.

Naidu reiterated the justification for his move on Saturday to bar the CBI from carrying out investigations in his state without his government’s permission.

“It is our responsibility to save the nation. Leaders are facing the CBI threat... In order to protect this great nation, we had a discussion from the beginning. Mamataji is already fighting this type of problem...”

Banerjee, who has backed Naidu’s over the issue and insisted that the BJP was using the CBI to undermine opposition leaders , refused to take any questions on the issue.

First Published: Nov 19, 2018 23:32 IST