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|October 8, 1999||
Vajpayee urges TDP to join ministry
Shireen in Hyderbad
Pressure is mounting on Telugu Desam Party president Nara Chandrababu Naidu to join the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance government at the Centre after his party's spectacular performance in the simultaneous polls for the 295-member Andhra Pradesh assembly and 42 Lok Sabha seats.
According to the ruling party sources, Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Union Home Minister Lal Kishenchand Advani had a telephonic conversation with Naidu and invited him to join the government. Though the TDP had a pre-poll tie-up with the BJP in the state, Naidu had made it clear that his support to the BJP was issue-based.
The TDP has all along supported the BJP government from outside. The support continued even after the BJP government collapsed after losing the vote of confidence by just one vote a few months back.
Senior BJP leader from Andhra Pradesh and Union Minister of State for Urban Development Bandaru Dattatreya this morning told a television channel that though the National Democratic Alliance was comfortably placed at the Centre, they would still like the TDP to participate in the government as mandated by the people of Andhra Pradesh.
The TDP-BJP combine in the state has won 36 (TDP: 29 and BJP: 7) of the 42 seats.
Some TDP sources indicated that the offer from the BJP was for two cabinet berths initially with another two to be invited to join the cabinet later.
Meanwhile, Chandrababu Naidu is holding a meeting of his party MPs and legislators to discuss whether the party should be part a of the BJP-led NDA government at the Centre, or continue to support it from outside.
He held informal discussions with his ministerial colleagues and party functionaries yesterday too where he is understood to have broached the subject and sought their opinion.
Speaker of the dissolved Lok Sabha, G M C Balayogi and Telugu Desam Parliamentary Party leader K Yerran Naidu, reportedly impressed on their party president to allow the TDP to join the NDA government since the TDP and BJP had contested the polls jointly.
Earlier in the day, the chief minister parried questions on whether his party would join the NDA government. To repeated queries, he said he would take some time to firm up his party's strategy on the issue after discussing the matter with his senior party and cabinet colleagues.
He, however, confirmed that "the NDA leaders are in touch with us and we will take a final decision after discussions".
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