Telugu Desam Party leader N Chandrababu Naidu is lobbying hard to become the convenor of the NDA, sources disclosed here on Thursday. Ironically though, Naidu is yet to formally join the the opposition grouping.
Naidu, the sources said, has already made a request to BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi to this effect. He flew to Mumbai on Wednesday to solicit the support of Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray. Thackeray reportedly remained non-committal to his request. Sources in the Akali Dal said Naidu has approached their party too.
Though Naidu’s induction into the NDA is a foregone conclusion, a formal announcement has been kept on hold because his hard line against Telangana runs contrary to the long-held position of the BJP in favour of the separate statehood. The BJP is waiting for the Congress to take the issue to a conclusion and unspool Naidu accordingly.
The sources said Naidu had advised Modi to block Congress efforts to put the new state in place ahead of Lok Sabha polls and carry out the job himself after gaining power, but senior BJP leaders have shot down the idea. Any such attempt by the BJP, they have told Modi, would destroy the credibility of the party in Telangana. They have cited the previous BJP experience – of losing ground after putting the issue on the backburner due to his pressure between 1998 and 2004 – to reject the suggestion.
The NDA convenor’s job has been vacant since June 2013 following the exit of the JD(U) from the alliance. JD(U) chief Sharad Yadav had been the NDA convenor since 2008. He had succeeded George Fernandes, who lost the post along with the JD(U) presidency.
Naidu’s political fortunes have been on a downslide following the ascendance of YSR Congress leader Jagan Mohan Reddy. The next course of the TDP chief got clear when he attended the swearing-in ceremony of Madhya Pradesh CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan in Bhopal in December. He had received invites for the swearing-in ceremonies of Vasundhara Raje and Raman Singh.