- Referring to 1996, Mr Naidu said regional parties dominated only once
- KCR met Kerala Chief Minister in fresh push for third front
- KCR is pushing for a non-Congress, non-BJP front
Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu -- who took on the role of the facilitator for a united opposition to challenge the BJP in the national election -- is unfazed about the plans of his arch-rival, Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao, for a non-Congress, non-BJP front "in the 1996 formula". Asked if he sees a repeat of what happened in 1996 and 1998, he told NDTV, "In a better way... because at the time of the United Front, the Congress was outside. Today all opposition parties sit together."
"In this country there are some political compulsions. Only one time, regional parties, rather the Third Front, dominated," he told NDTV, referring to the United Front government, which came to power in 1996 with the outside support of the Congress. Mr Naidu was the convenor of the Front, which, he added, was not wholly regional, since it had the Left parties.
"Today, either the BJP or the Congress has to support," said the 69-year-old, who had put behind the decades-old rivalry with the Congress last year, flying down to Delhi to meet party chief Rahul Gandhi.
At the time too, "democratic compulsion" was his explanation for the unusual move to join hands with the Congress, weeks after he had split from the NDA and turned against the BJP. "We did not see such times even during Indira Gandhi," he had said, in a reference to the 1975 Emergency.
Today, all 21 parties that have ranged themselves against the BJP, may contest the polls differently in the states, but are joined at the national level, he said.
Mr Naidu's comments came amid a renewed push for the Federal Front by K Chandrashekar Rao, who met his Kerala counterpart Pinarayi Vijayan on Tuesday. Admitting that they had discussed the current political scenario, Mr Vijayan had termed the meeting a "very important one".
Mr Rao had a series of meetings last year too with various opposition leaders, pushing for a non-Congress, non-BJP Front that can take power after the elections, with a Prime Minister from south India. But the idea had not gained much traction in earlier meetings Mr Rao had with a string of opposition leaders, including Naveen Patnaik and Mamata Banerjee.
Asked if he thought a non-Congress, non-BJP government was the way forward, and about a possible Prime Ministerial candidates of such a front, Pinarayi Vijayan had said, "All that will be seen after the results are announced".
Mr Naidu, too, said the decision on the top job can only be taken after the elections. "We will discuss it. All the leaders will sit together and decide on the best person for the job," he said.