Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu, who is on a day-long fast to demand special status for his state, said that aligning with the BJP was a political compulsion, but forming an anti-BJP front has become a "democratic compulsion".
"All central institutions are being demolished, democracy is in danger. That's why we all have come together," Mr Naidu told NDTV at Andhra Bhavan in Delhi.
The Telugu Desam Party (TDP), led by Chandrababu Naidu, had pulled out of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) over what its chief described as "unfulfilled promises" and "injustice" done to Andhra Pradesh after Telangana was carved out of it in 2014. After quitting the NDA in March last year, the TDP had also moved a ''no-confidence motion'' in the Monsoon session of parliament in July, but it was defeated.
On Sunday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Andhra Pradesh for the first time since the break-up and during a rally accused Mr Naidu of being a party-hopper and betraying everybody from allies to his own family. "He deceived his father-in-law (NT Rama Rao)," PM Modi said at a rally in Guntur yesterday.
In a stinging rebuttal, the TDP chief said he doesn't need lessons from a person who doesn't respect his guru and failed his family. Mr Naidu first offered a clarification and then attacked PM Modi.
Rejecting the "backstabbing" allegation, Mr Naidu said, "Our party was facing a threat at the time. All the members of my family and the party took a decision to save the party."
He clarified that he doesn't like to make personal attacks, but was compelled to do so. "I am a proud father to Lokesh, a proud husband and a grandfather. I want to ask Modi ji, what is his identity. He talks about triple talaq, the rights of women, but what about him? When somebody crosses the line, we have to hit him the same way, only then he will understand," the TDP leader said justifying his reaction.
His criticism of the Prime Minister didn't end there.
Referring to senior BJP leader LK Advani, Mr Naidu said, "What about Advani? He is your political guru. He saved you in Gujarat riots. You wanted to become the Prime Minister, you became. But when your guru wanted to become the president, you had cases filed against him. When he (Mr Advani) wishes him, Modi never wishes him back. And he is attacking me?"
To PM Modi's statement that Chandrababu Naidu is senior to me only in things like "switching sides and forming new alliances", the TDP leader said, "I became the chief minister in 1996 and Modi became the chief minister of Gujarat in 2002, several years after me. I have already spent four decades in politics."
Chandrababu Naidu told NDTV that the large-scale protest in Delhi is being funded by the Andhra Pradesh government after PM Modi's accusation that he was using public money to fund his political campaigns.
Calling it a "legitimate protest" and a "fight for justice" by the people of Andhra Pradesh, Mr Naidu said, "On Sunday, the PM came all the way to Amaravati to attack me. He flew to attend the rally. Who funded his trip? The party money was used but who gave his party the money? Public. Whereas ours isn't a party protest. I am here on the behalf of 5 crore people of Andhra. The entire government has come here to protest."
The Congress and the TDP along with several opposition parties, including Mamata Banerjee's Trinamool Congress have been working towards forming a national-level alliance that will fight the BJP. But the model will not be replicated in states.
Yes, we will go it alone in Andhra Pradesh, Mr Naidu, the self-styled facilitator for a united opposition, said.
The two parties -- the Congress and the TDP -- had joined hands before the Telangana assembly elections in December, but the experiment turned out to be a disaster in the state.
However, the country needs consensus politics, Mr Naidu said.
Responding to the ruling party's jibe that the proposed grand alliance has too many contenders for the Prime Minister's role and it will be impossible for them to agree on a name, the Andhra leader they need not worry about that and wondered if they (the BJP) have any other leader for the role.
"We have decided to pick a name only after the results are out. Every party has strong leaders. And all the leaders are better than Modi. After elections, we hope to build the nation with consensus," he said.
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