Opposition leaders step up coalition talks; Chandrababu Naidu meets Rahul Gandhi, Mayawati and Akhilesh Yadav

TDP chief N Chandrababu Naidu held a flurry of meetings with Opposition leaders, including Congress president Rahul Gandhi, BSP's Mayawati and SP leader Akhilesh Yadav.

Press Trust of India May 18, 2019 21:21:44 IST
Opposition leaders step up coalition talks; Chandrababu Naidu meets Rahul Gandhi, Mayawati and Akhilesh Yadav

New Delhi: TDP chief N Chandrababu Naidu held a flurry of meetings with Opposition leaders, including Congress president Rahul Gandhi, BSP's Mayawati and SP leader Akhilesh Yadav, in an apparent bid to rally support for a non-BJP government at the Centre.

Naidu, who arrived in the national capital on Friday, also met Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar, Loktantrik Janata Dal leader Sharad Yadav and leaders of the Communist Party of India.

He then flew to Lucknow and met Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party chiefs.

"It is a pleasure to welcome Hon'ble Chief Minister Shri N Chandrababu Naiduji to Lucknow," Akhilesh Yadav tweeted.

The Andhra Pradesh chief minister did not speak to the media after any of his meetings.

Sources, however, said Naidu and Gandhi discussed the possibility of forming a joint alliance of all Opposition parties.

Opposition leaders step up coalition talks Chandrababu Naidu meets Rahul Gandhi Mayawati and Akhilesh Yadav

File photo of Andhra Pradesh chief minister Chandrababu Naidu. News18

He told Gandhi to have a strategy ready, in case the NDA falls short of a majority and still stakes claim to form the government, the sources said.

Naidu told all the leaders that "we all should come together and put our act together" to form the next government by keeping the BJP out, a source said.

Later, Gandhi, former prime minister Manmohan Singh and other Congress leaders met at UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi's residence to evolve their party's strategy.

"The campaigning of this Lok Sabha Election 2019 has ended and as we await the last phase of polling, Andhra Pradesh CM Shri N Chandrababu Naidu paid me a visit to discuss the ongoing and future political scenario of our country," Pawar said in a tweet after the meeting at his residence.

Naidu met CPI leader G Sudhakar Reddy and D Raja over breakfast, asking them to "come together".

Reddy and Raja separately met Pawar at his residence.

The Telugu Desam Party chief has held several rounds of discussion with various opposition leaders, including TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee, AAP national convener Arvind Kejriwal and CPIM general secretary Sitaram Yechury.

Naidu's TDP was a part of the NDA, but quit the alliance a few months ago.

On Friday, Naidu said not only the Telangana Rashtra Samithi but any outfit which is against the BJP is welcome to join a grand alliance after the election results are declared on 23 May.

As Opposition leaders scramble to form a joint anti-BJP front, hectic deliberations among them are likely to continue in the days ahead.

Meanwhile, Karnataka chief minister and JD(S) leader HD Kumaraswamy urged Congress and his party members to not give controversial statements against each other.

"We are on the verge of formation of a new government at the Centre. At this juncture where all efforts are being made to form a non-BJP government at the Centre, the contradictory statements by leaders of coalition partners may mar such efforts," he tweeted.

"Hence, my humble request to the leaders of both the parties is to restrain from making contradictory- controversial statements in public and to support the cause," Kumaraswamy said.

Former prime minister and JD(S) leader HD Deve Gowda said they are all together with the Congress in forming the next government.

There has been a war of words between the Congress and its alliance partners JD(S) in Karnataka for some time now.

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