- Arvind Kejriwal invited by Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister
- Meeting is about a strategy for 2019 elections
- Chandrababu Naidu is pushing for a grand alliance for 2019
Aam Aadmi Party chief Arvind Kejriwal will attend his first meeting with opposition leaders in Chandrababu Naidu's big push for a grand alliance for 2019 today, sources have told NDTV. Mr Naidu, who has taken up the challenging task of bringing the parties on the same page to take on the BJP next year, has recently ended his long-standing rivalry with the Congress.
Mr Kejriwal has been invited by the Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister and the meeting is about a strategy for 2019 and not necessarily an alliance, AAP sources told NDTV.
"It is for people to sink their differences... Democracy is important," maintains Mr Naidu, who walked out of the NDA earlier this year after his demand for special status for his state remained unmet by the government.
Mr Kejriwal, one of the key opposition leaders who had been outspoken against the government, was present at the oath ceremony of HD Kumaraswamy, which turned out to be the first unofficial meet to discuss a grand alliance for 2019. But there was no show of bonhomie between him and the other established leaders.
His newcomer status in politics was seen as part of the reason. There was also his frayed relationship with the Congress.
Mr Kejriwal had formed his first government in 2013 with outside support from the Congress. But it came to a rapid end after 49 days. Since then, the state Congress leaders had not spared him. Even in June this year, when his eight-day face-off with Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal had brought messages of support and congratulations from other political leaders, the state Congress, which ruled for three terms under the leadership of Sheila Dikshit, had continued its attack on the Chief Minister.
In August, during the election of the Deputy Chairman of Rajya Sabha, the two parties moved further apart. The AAP was miffed that Congress chief Rahul Gandhi did not call and ask for their support for the voting on the floor of the House.
Mr Kejriwal boycotted the election. His party's senior leader Sanjay Singh said, "If Rahul Gandhi can hug Narendra Modi, why cannot he ask Arvind Kejriwal for support to his party's candidate?"
Last month, the farmers' protest in Delhi brought Rahul Gandhi and Arvind Kejriwal on the same stage for the first time.
But Mr Singh has pointed out that there has been no initiative from either party for an alliance. "First, there should be talks (between the two sides) and an initiative to actually know if we are comfortable together or not," he said.
Chandrababu Naidu, who ended his decades-long rivalry with the Congress recently, admits that one or two parties may have a difference of opinion. His advice to political parties is that they have to set aside their differences and work as a team if they have to defeat the BJP next year. He also said while it is difficult to bring everybody on the same page, it is not impossible.
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