Stepping up his efforts for an anti-BJP front in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, TDP supremo and Andhra Pradesh chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu on Thursday met his Karnataka counterpart HD Kumaraswamy after which he said a grand alliance of various regional parties would be forged soon in which the Congress will be a "main anchor".
Naidu's meeting with the top brass of the JD(S)—Kumaraswamy and his father and former prime minister H D Deve Gowda—came two days after the JD(S)-Congress coalition candidates defeated the BJP 4-1 in three Lok Sabha and two assembly seats in the bypolls.
Setting the stage for the revival of an united front against the BJP, Naidu claimed the mood of the nation was against the BJP-led NDA and soon an alliance would be formed with various regional parties.
Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Naidu said the initial steps for the formation of the alliance was underway and that once the modalities were fixed, programmes would be chalked out later.
"I have spoken to Mayawati, Akhilesh Yadav. I have met everybody. Tomorrow I am meeting Stalin (DMK president). We will decide how to take forward the alliance with consensus. It is an initial exercise. After that we will work together," he said.
Naidu also said the Congress will be a main anchor in any "grand alliance" of opposition parties.
"Congress is a major opposition party," he said, pointing out that Deve Gowda became prime minister with support of the Congress from outside in 1996.
"... Congress is a main anchor," Naidu added.
However, he ducked questions on the alliance's prime ministerial candidate. “PM candidate we will be decided later, first we will save the nation,” he said.
The comments by Naidu came on a day when senior Congress leader P Chidambaram said state-wise alliances would benefit the party and was the best way to defeat the BJP.
"The kind of alliance that was formed in Karnataka yielded results. Similar alliances should be formed in different states," Chidambaram told reporters in Kolkata.
The electoral sweep by the ruling coalition in Karnataka came as a boost to opposition unity as the bypolls were seen as a barometer of the public mood ahead of the 2019 polls.
Gowda said the meeting was called to work out further strategy on forming the alliance and urged “like-minded” parties to join hands for the elections.
"It is the responsibility of all secular parties including Congress to come together to replace NDA govt,” he said.
Kumaraswamy expressed confidence that the 2019 polls will see a repeat of the 1996 result, when a united opposition had formed the government and Gowda had become the prime minister.
“I think 1996 will be repeated in 2019 elections.," he said, adding Gowda and Naidu are old friends and their arithmetic is good.
BJP's estranged ally Shiv Sena, meanwhile, took a dig at its senior coalition partner over the Karnataka result, saying it indicated that "acche din" (good days) will return for the Congress in 2019.
The Uddhav Thackeray-led party also said the BJP's defeat in a string of Lok Sabha and assembly bypolls in the country would infuse a "fresh lease of life" in the Congress ahead of the Lok Sabha elections.
In an editorial laced with sarcasm in the party mouthpiece "Saamana", the Sena said the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) probably lost in Karnataka for ignoring poll promises like construction of a Ram temple in Ayodhya and for "imposing some other agenda".
Mocking the BJP, the edit said the party should think why its "losing streak" is continuing unabated even as some "revolutionary changes" are taking place in the country under the BJP-led government by its own admission.