- Congress and TDP have joined hands for the Telangana elections
- Party insiders claim change in stance due to political compulsion
- TDP is trying to bring in opposition parties to take on BJP in 2019
Standing shoulder to shoulder with Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu, 20 years his senior, Congress chief Rahul Gandhi told NDTV that they are not adversaries and their "chemistry is very good".
"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," Mr Gandhi said in Telangana's Hyderabad, where he had gone for campaigning on Wednesday.
The two leaders, whose parties have been longtime rivals, decided to shed the baggage and join hands ahead of the December 7 assembly elections in Telangana. The partnership, they had indicated after their first meeting earlier this month, will be broad-based and long-term.
"We are very clear, the nation is very, very important," Mr Naidu told NDTV. "It is our responsibility - Telegu Desam, Congress party and other political parties have joined together to defeat BJP and save the nation."
The Telugu Desam Party chief, who split from the NDA in March, has taken over the role of a "facilitator" for a broader opposition unity to take on the BJP in the 2019 national election. Over the last weeks, he has visited Delhi several times, meeting a number of opposition leaders including Sharad Pawar, Farooq Abdullah and Arvind Kejriwal.
The TDP was formed with the express purpose of toppling the Congress government in Andhra Pradesh by Mr Naidu's father-in-law NT Rama Rao. Within months, the party formed the first non-Congress government in Andhra Pradesh in 1983.
In the late '90s, Mr Naidu contested state elections in alliance with the Left parties, and later allied with the BJP. Earlier this year, he walked out of the NDA, frustrated with the Centre's steadfast refusal to give the special status promised to his state. Party insiders claimed his change in stance since, is the result of political compulsion.
Rahul Gandhi -- who earlier acknowledged that they had "a past" -- on Wednesday said, "We are working together and we are working together because there is a threat to this nation from the PM, from the BJP".
"It is the national mission -- all of us have joined together," Mr Naidu added.