In broad hints several times over the last few days, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu appears to be warming up to the idea of leading a Third Front. In the last two days, he has underlined his seniority and vast experience in politics.
“I am the senior most political leader in the country in contemporary politics. I have been in politics for more than 40 years and have vast experience.” the 66-year-old CM has said several times in the last two days, although not directly hinting at forming a Third Front or joining the one proposed by his Telangana counterpart K Chandrasekhar Rao last week.
Addressing the state Assembly today, Naidu said regional political parties have to take tough decisions to protect their interests and reminded the state Assembly that these parties can play a critical role in bringing together like-minded parties across the country.
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In response to two BJP ministers, who resigned from his Cabinet this morning, Naidu accused the saffron party of behaving as callously as the Congress did during bifurcated. Health and Medical Education Kamineni Srinivas and Endowments Minister P Manikyala Rao, resigned this morning, after the TDP announced its decision to walk out of the goverment. Naidu, however, praised Srinivas and Rao, saying they brought reforms in their departments and worked tirelessly.
“Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s comments last night hurt us very much. He talked as if we are asking for all money to be given to Andhra only. We were hurt and felt insulted that is why we had to take the decision to ask our Central ministers to resign,” Naidu said. “Instead of responding positively, Jaitley talks in a take-it-or-leave-it tone.”
Invoking Telugu pride, Naidu said actor N T Rama Rao (NTR) left his acting career to start Telugu Desam Party (TDP) in 1982 because Telugu people were insulted and Telugu pride was hurt by the then Congress government, led by Indira Gandhi. Naidu said that NTR rallied regional parties and stitched an alliance to form a government at the Centre.
“BJP kept quiet when UPA switched off cameras in Parliament and passed the Bill dividing Andhra Pradesh. After that BJP promised special status and included it in its manifesto also in AP. Now when we are asking for what is rightfully ours, BJP is making excuses and blaming the AP government for not following procedures like submitting utilization certificates etc.”
Naidu is not new to coalition politics. He was the convener of the United Front in 1996, which the Telegu Desam Party (TDP) was a part of. Prior to that, the TDP and its founder N T Rama Rao were also involved in the formation of the National Front led by Janata Dal in 1989.
Both Naidu and KCR are questioning the BJP’s spirit of cooperative federalism. They have both said that while they have unflinchingly supported Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the BJP has not reciprocated positively to the states’ demands.
Hinting Naidu may play a larger role in a possible Third Front, a TDP leader said, “Chandrababu Naidu is a very experienced leader. He has lot of experience in dealing with other regional parties as well as with the two main national parties. If a Third Front emerges he may be a strong contender to lead it too.”
“Telangana CM, though, is first off the blocks by already proposing the formation of a non-Congress, non-BJP Third Front and has invited TDP to join it. So far, Naidu has not given any indication of joining any Third Front but today’s development may force the TDP to look for alternatives,’’ the leader added.