However, as per sources, Naidu’s efforts haven’t yielded results so far.
Hyderabad: Andhra Chief Minister and TDP president N. Chandrababu Naidu has intensified his last-ditch efforts to bring about some sort of an understanding among Congress president Rahul Gandhi, Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress (TMC) chief Mamata Banerjee and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) supremo Mayawati to prevent Prime Minister Narendra Modi from coming back to power, in case the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) falls short of the half-way mark on 23 May.
However, Naidu’s efforts haven’t yielded results so far, according to sources close to him. Naidu is expected to camp in Delhi till 23 May, though he may take a break for a day or two in the next five days. He is in the national capital to mobilise the Opposition leaders for a scheduled conclave by United Progressive Alliance (UPA) leader Sonia Gandhi on 23 May evening. The fate of the meeting still hangs in the air.
The TDP chief, who landed in Delhi on Friday, held discussions with several Opposition leaders on Saturday, including Rahul Gandhi, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, CPI leaders S. Sudhakara Reddy and D. Raja, NCP leader Sharad Pawar and JDU leader Sharad Yadav and Mayawati whom he called on in Lucknow. Naidu’s theme of these meetings is simple—stop Narendra Modi from becoming Prime Minister again.
According to Naidu, the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) is unlikely to cross the half-way mark—272 MPs in Lok Sabha—though it may emerge as the single largest bloc. Naidu has been telling the Opposition leaders that the NDA might end up at 240-250 MPs and unless there is a concerted effort from the Opposition camp, the President is expected to invite Modi to form the government on 24 May.
Modi might get a week or 10 days’ time to prove his majority on the floor of the House and this is enough for him to win over enough numbers from the Opposition camp, according to Naidu who shared his views with the Opposition leaders in the last two days. To prevent this, there needs to be a combine before the results are out and that combine should make its case before the President on 23 May itself. Despite his best efforts, Naidu so far couldn’t bring together the Opposition leaders so that they can meet the President on the day of the results. Rahul Gandhi is ready to lead the Opposition delegation to the Rashtrapathi Bhavan, provided he is projected as the PM candidate of the combine. However, this is not acceptable to Mamata Banerjee and Mayawati, according to a senior TDP leader accompanying Naidu in Delhi.
Inside information from Naidu’s aides is that Mayawati is keeping her options open and Mamata Banerjee doesn’t want to reveal her cards until the final results are available.
Mayawati appears to be toying with the idea of joining any coalition that comes to power, if her interests are safeguarded. Mamata Banerjee, on the other hand, doesn’t like helping the revival of Congress led by Rahul Gandhi at the Centre. The refusal of Maywati and Mamata Banerjee to play ball has apparently disappointed Naidu, but he is not ready to give up his efforts. “Our leader is trying hard to impress one and all, including Mamata Banerjee and Mayawati, that Modi coming to power for a second term would be a bigger danger than anything else,” the TDP leader told this newspaper on phone from Delhi on Saturday.
SP’s Akhilesh Yadav, DMK’s Stalin, Sharad Pawar and JDS leaders Deve Gowda and Kumaraswamy and RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav are willing to back a Congress led alternative at the Centre, but Naidu knows that unless Mayawati and Mamata Banerjee support this combine, Modi cannot be prevented from coming back to power.
During his breakfast meeting with CPI leaders at AP Bhavan, Naidu differed with the projections of the PM and BJP president Amit Shah on Friday that they would be back in power with 300 plus seats. Naidu gave details of his own surveys from his laptop which put the BJP’s tally around 200 plus and the CPI leaders have agreed with this assessment.