New Delhi: Despite Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu's appeal to Opposition parties that the Congress needs to be the "anchor" in any anti-BJP grouping in 2019, differences between various outfits remain, with the latest casualty being the chief minister's own conference of Opposition parties which was due to be held last month and that has now been postponed indefinitely.
With most parties refusing to accept the leadership of the Congress in this matter and the Congress itself refusing to accept the AAP government in Delhi as the host of the event, senior Opposition leaders are now looking at Karnataka CM H.D. Kumaraswamy as the convener of the event.
Mr Chandrababu Naidu met Mr Kumaraswamy in Bengaluru on Thursday and is understood to have discussed the matter with him, sources said. "We are planning that Mr Kumaraswamy convene the event and the Delhi chief minister hosts it in the capital," a senior Opposition leader told this newspaper.
While the Congress state governments have refused to participate in the event if it is called by traditional rivals AAP, other regional parties like the Trinamul Congress and the AAP have refused to participate if the Congress convenes it, the leader added.
Mr Naidu, who was in New Delhi last week, met a host of Opposition leaders, including Congress president Rahul Gandhi and Nationalist Congress Party supremo Sharad Pawar. Both leaders told the media later that the Andhra Pradesh CM would take the lead in trying to bring all parties together for an anti-BJP formation in the run-up to 2019.
The TDP chief, who also met some other top regional leaders like BSP chief Mayawati and Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav, is understood to have maintained that the Congress party needs to anchor any Opposition alliance.
At a press conference in New Delhi, the TDP chief said it was not possible to have a government formation at the Centre without a national party. His stance has, however, given heartburn to many regional leaders like Trinamul Congress chief Mamata Banerjee, who have given clear indications of their national ambitions.
While Mr Naidu had said at last week’s press conference that he was in touch with the TMC chief, her silence on his latest efforts at bringing everybody together was evidence of her discomfiture with the idea of the Congress being in the driving seat.
It might be recalled that Ms Banerjee, who was one of the first to take up cudgels against the Narendra Modi government, specially over moves like demonetisation, had made the first move for a Third Front by meeting Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao. However, Mr Rao, who had gone to Kolkata to meet Ms Banerjee, has since then gone lukewarm with his initiative, giving rise to speculation of his having moved closer to the BJP.
The Trinamul Congress chief had also made it clear she would not work under the tutelage of Congress president Rahul Gandhi, and had virtually thrown her hat into the ring as a possible leader of an Opposition alliance. It might be recalled that at meetings called by Mr Gandhi, she had sent leaders who are regarded as far junior in the political hierarchy....