Hyderabad: The United Progressive Alliance (UPA), led by India’s main opposition Congress party, has stepped up its efforts to bring more parties into its fold to position itself to form the next government after May 23.
Realising that every single seat in parliament will be crucial to unseat the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA), UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi has extended invitations to parties that are not part of the rival grouping to a May 23 meeting in New Delhi.
Among other parties, Gandhi has invited the Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS), YSR Congress of Jaganmohan Reddy and Telugu Desam Party (TDP) — despite the latter two going head to head in Andhra Pradesh.
Though it was not yet clear how TRS supremo K Chandrasekhar Rao would respond to this invitation as he has been making his own efforts to form a Federal Front as an alternative to both the UPA and the NDA, Telugu Desam president and Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister and TDP chief N. Chandrababu Naidu was certain to send a representative to the meeting as he will be busy with the election results in the state.
Similarly Jaganmohan Reddy was likely to give the meeting a miss as his party has decided not to reveal its cards until the last vote is counted on May 23.
As a clearer picture is likely to emerge only the next day, Jaganmohan Reddy’s approach will depend upon the seats secured by the two major alliances.
Jaganmohan Reddy has gone on record as saying his party’s support to any government at the Centre will be linked to granting of Special Category Status to Andhra Pradesh.
He has also been in touch with Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao to evolve a common strategy.
BJP bid to woo allies
Meanwhile the BJP, unsure of getting more than 200 seats in Parliament along with its allies in the NDA, has also been making similar efforts to attract some more allies including the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) party of Odisha.
But, not leaving anything to chance, UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi has also extended an invitation to BJD president and Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik.
Sources say she has assigned the responsibility of winning over Patnaik to his personal friend and Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath.
While Congress and the UPA partners were making moves to ensure that their alliance should be in a position to stake a claim to form the next government with the sufficient numbers, and pave the way for the emergence of Congress President Rahul Gandhi as the next prime minister, many regional heavyweights including KCR, Mamata Banerjee of the Trinamool Congress, and Dalit leader Mayawati as the leader of BSP-SP-RLD alliance in Uttar Pradesh, have their own plans and ambitions.
They are likely to drive a hard bargain.
TRS spokesperson Abid Rasool Khan has gone on record saying that the Federal Front proposed by KCR would not be averse to taking the support of Congress party to form the next government.
“We are certain the Federal Front will be able to form its own government. But if we fall short of numbers we can take the support of Congress,” he said.
It is first time that a TRS leader has indicated willingness to do business with Congress. It has come at a time when KCR’s efforts to wean away some of the UPA partners including DMK to build Federal Front have run into a roadblock.
‘True colours exposed’
Significantly after declining KCR’s invitation to join the Federal Front and reiterating his support to a Congress-led alliance, the president of Tamil Nadu’s Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam party (DMK), M.K. Stalin, has sent one of his confidantes Dorai Murugan to meet Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu.
Sources said Stalin sent a clear message to Naidu to continue his efforts to build a larger opposition alliance against the BJP and his meeting with KCR was nothing more than a courtesy call.
Both Stalin and Naidu were clearly in support of installing Rahul Gandhi as the next Prime Minister.
Naidu has taken the responsibility of bringing other regional parties including Trinamool Congress, SP, BSP and Aam Admi Party of Arvind Kejriwal to the same platform and ensuring a Congress led coalition replaces the NDA.
Describing Rahul Gandhi as a good leader Naidu said, “The non BJP regional parties will not commit the mistake of keeping the Congress out of any alliance government”.
Meanwhile commenting on the violence and vandalism during the road show of BJP President Amit Shah in West Bengal on Tuesday, Chandrababu Naidu said, “there is a need for all the opposition parties to unite to face this onslaught of Narendra Modi and Amit Shah on the democratic system”.
Naidu said that after trying to destabilise the Trinamool Congress government by misusing agencies like CBI, Enforcement Directorate and Income Tax now the BJP was showing its true colours and carrying out direct attacks in West Bengal.