Congress president Rahul Gandhi and Telugu Desam Party chief Chandrababu Naidu, are campaigning together in Telangana after 37 years of political rivalry. Speaking to NDTV in an exclusive interview, Rahul Gandhi said, "We are not adversaries... the chemistry is very good" and that there is a lot that can be done together. Chandrababu Naidu said it is the responsibility of all political parties to come together to fight the BJP and win the elections.
Following is the full transcript of the interview:
Rahul Gandhi: We are not adversaries. We are working together and we are working together because there is a threat to this nation from the PM, from the BJP. There is a threat to every single institution of this nation and we are defending the institutional structure of this nation and the future of this nation.
Rahul Gandhi: We are not adversaries. We have a lot in common and we are working together and we are having a very nice time doing so.
Question: TDP has been a partner with RSS and BJP, does it worry you? Does it worry you that Congress party has, in fact, your party was formed because of opposition to Congress party
Chandrababu Naidu: We are very clear, nation is very very important. It is our responsibility - Telegu Desam, Congress party and other political parties have joined together to defeat BJP and save the nation.
Question: How is the chemistry working? Both of you have not been with each other for such a long time, both of you were kind of breaking the ice and then getting warm.
Rahul Gandhi: Chemistry is very good. I have been working now with Mr Naidu for some time, I must say, there is a lot in common, in our thinking. There is a similarity in our vision, I think there is a lot that can be done together. If you recall, and I have mentioned this a couple of times, When Mr Naidu lost the election in 2004 and the press was after Mr Naidu, I stood up for Mr Naidu and said 'do not disrespect Mr Naidu' because he has done a significantly good job in government.
Question: So, is it a meeting of minds? Do you agree on a lot of things?
Rahul Gandhi: We like each other. We think there is a lot we can do together and I think, you're going to see that in these next coming elections, we are going to win elections.
Question: Together in 2019?
Chandrababu Naidu: Now we are working together, it is the national mission - all of us have joined together. We are all witnessing what has happened for the last 4 years - even today. Even media is under tremendous pressure. Also, all institutions are totally demolished. It is the responsibility of every citizen, all political parties together, to fight against BJP and win the elections.
Question: What is driving this alliance?
Rahul Gandhi: Can I just introduce Mr Kodandaram ji, and let him say a few words?
Question: Sir, this is a coalition that...you have fought the Telangana struggle, you are at the forefront of that particular struggle - now the coming together of Rahul Gandhi and Chandrababu Naidu and TJS itself, how is it going to add to the strength? Why do you think you'll be able to defeat a TRS, which has been saying, 'we have primary ownership of Telangana' - they have been claiming that
M. Kodandaram: We fought for a separate state, having achieved it, now we are trying to fight for democratic development; a development that benefits everyone in this region, and in this struggle, we want to take support of every political party and that is also the present thinking and mood in Telangana, they want these political parties to come together and fight for a better Telangana.
Rahul Gandhi: See, what you said right, the answer is in your statement, Telangana is not the primary ownership of anybody. It is not the primary ownership of the TRS or of the chief minister. Telangana belongs to the people of Telangana and if anybody owns Telangana, every single citizen of Telangana owns it - that is actually what we are fighting for. We are fighting for the voice of the people of Telangana. We do not want to impose our voice on top of the people in Telangana; in Delhi, Mr Narendra Modi and the RSS is imposing the voice of their organisation, their ideology on the nation and in Telangana, the CM is doing the same with his family. What we are fighting for is the spirit of the people of Telangana here and the spirit of the people of India, in Delhi.