Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu, who broke away from the NDA and joined the opposition camp to become one of its key members, has told NDTV that his battle is against Prime Minister Narendra Modi, as well as regional rivals Jaganmohan Reddy and Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao. The 68-year-old, one of the key interlocuters of the opposition, also said while PM Modi will not return to power, he was not an aspirant for the post of the Prime Minister. "We (regional parties) will work together post-election... 100 per cent Modi is not the PM," he told NDTV's Prannoy Roy.
Mr Naidu had quit NDA when the Centre denied special status to Andhra Pradesh - an issue that Jaganmohan Reddy of the YSR Congress was championing. His exit was thus seen more of an equaliser in the state where anger over bifurcation of Telangana and a denial of the promised resources was simmering.
Asked if his rivalry with them was separate, Mr Naidu said, "All are one, no doubt about it. Modi is protecting Jagan, KCR is supporting Jagan. People are aware. Ask my people". Telangana, he also said, was working against the interests of Andhra Pradesh.
Jaganmohan Reddy, while not officially with the BJP, has made his admiration for PM Modi clear. In an interview with NDTV, he said, "Prime Minister (Narendra Modi) might be scoring well all over the country. Probably, he has exhibited a stronger will than any other prime minister. Maybe he has done far better".
He, however, made it clear, neither PM Modi, nor Rahul Gandhi will do well in the state.
Mr Naidu underscored the point. "Injustice has been done during bifurcation, Modi has cheated us. He promised everything on special status, and he cheated us... we have to get 1 lakh crore... people are feeling let down," Chandrababu Naidu said, indicating that local issues will dominate in the elections which are beginning this week.
Elections for the 175 assembly seats and 25 Lok Sabha seats of Andhra Pradesh will be held in a single phase on April 11 - the first phase of the elections.
Mr Naidu had contested the 2014 national elections as a partner of the BJP, which was challenging the Congress after its 10-year rule at the Centre. But after the elections, as the Centre declared that special status has been scrapped for all but hill states, Jaganmohan Reddy had accused the Chief Minister of being in league with a party that was refusing to give the state its dues.
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