Days after a landslide victory in Telangana, Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao on Sunday met his Odisha counterpart Naveen Patnaik, taking the first step towards reviving his proposed Third front and making his intention to focus on national politics clear. With Patnaik by his side, Rao said there was a dire need for unification of regional parties to provide an alternative to the Congress and the BJP ahead of the 2019 elections.
“We need to talk to more people across the nation. The country needs a change for which dialogue has begun. We’re doing our part but nothing concrete has emerged. We’ve just begun the dialogue. We will meet again to discuss how to take things forward,” PTI quoted the TRS chief as saying.
Both the chief ministers had a detailed discussion on national issues, including the need for better friendship among the regional parties. If KCR was more forthcoming on forming a Third Front, Patnaik’s reaction was blunt.
“We discussed several things, including friendship of like-minded parties. We’ve not thought that (Parliament elections) far. He came to Odisha to offer thanks to Lord Jagannath for his tremendous victory,” ANI quoted the BJD chief as saying. Along with TRS and AIADMK, Patnaik’s BJD has been another fence-sitter which has neither advocated support for the BJP or the Congress.
Rao’s Odisha’s visit is part of a whirlwind tour he is undertaking to forge a Third Front ahead of the 2019 elections. Besides regional party chiefs such as Mamata Banerjee and Mayawati, KCR will also meet heads of Dalit, Muslim and Christian organisations and farmers’ associations.
After the victory in the Assembly elections on December 11, KCR had announced he would soon float a “non-Congress, non-BJP” national consortium of regional parties. “We will play a very crucial role in national politics…The country needs a non-Congress, non-BJP government. Today’s results showed that a non-Congress, non-BJP state is possible. We have no bosses or agents, we are purely agents of the people of Telangana,” he had said.
KCR’s move comes at a time when a rejuvenated Congress is looking to pivot itself as a natural leader in forming an Opposition alliance. With the prospects of an alternative government without the BJP or the Congress looking bleak in the present scenario, a third front has the potential to split anti-BJP votes, thereby helping the saffron party ensure that the Congress’s attempts are not successful.