Telugu Desam Party (TDP) chief N Chandrababu Naidu is meeting Janata Dal (Secular) national president HD Deve Gowda and his son, Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy, in Bengaluru today as part of his efforts to stitch together a united opposition against the BJP in the Lok Sabha elections next year. The interaction began soon after Mr Gowda received Mr Naidu, also the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, at his residence in Padmanabha Nagar on Thursday afternoon.
The success of the Congress-Janata Dal(Secular) alliance in the recent Karnataka bypolls has come as a booster shot for plans to present a united front against the BJP in the parliamentary elections. On Tuesday, Mr Kumaraswamy even said that Congress president Rahul Gandhi should lead the opposition charge in 2019.
“The bypoll results are a good development because it shows that the people of the state understand the need for secular forces. Naidu is expected to seek Deve Gowda’s cooperation at the meeting,” Janata Dal(Secular) lawmaker Sharavana had said earlier.
Candidates representing the Congress-Janata Dal(Secular) alliance won two Lok Sabha seats — Ballari and Mandya — and two assembly constituencies — Jamkhandi and Ramanagaram — in the recently concluded Karnataka bypolls. The BJP won just the Shivamogga parliamentary seat, and that too by a narrower margin when compared to 2014. This is being seen as a sign of the Modi wave waning in the state ahead of the Lok Sabha polls.
Mr Naidu is currently involved in mediating between various parties in an effort to cobble together a united opposition, taking up a role that has been vacant ever since Janata Dal (United) chief Nitish Kumar decided to join the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance last year. Earlier this month, the TDP president had formally joined hands with Mr Gandhi in New Delhi with the “main aim of defeating the BJP”.
However, the road ahead for the alliance promises to be rocky. Knowing well the significance of her voter base in any electoral contest, Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) supremo Mayawati has begun seeking a larger share of seats from alliance partners in return for her support. The Dalit party refused to join hands with the Congress for the Madhya Pradesh assembly elections, and now hopes for a fractured verdict that would put it in a bargaining position during post-electoral negotiations. Other regional parties such as the Telangana Rashtra Samithi and the Biju Janata Dal are also reluctant to join a coalition led by the Congress.
Nevertheless, Mr Naidu is forging ahead in his efforts to unite the Opposition. He recently met Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar and National Conference president Farooq Abdullah, among others, in this connection.