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Naidu's defeat puts Surjeet in action

May 11, 2004 15:32 IST

The massive defeat inflicted on Chandrababu Naidu by the people of Andhra Pradesh has quickened the political manoeuvring in distant Delhi.

Both the Congress camp and the National Democratic Alliance camp are witnessing a flurry of high profile visitors and talks on the post-poll scenario. A look at what happened in the different camps

In the Congress Camp

Communist Party India (Marxist) leader Harkishen Singh Surjeet met Congress chief Sonia Gandhi asking her to defer the issue of leadership till after the Lok Sabha poll results are out.

He said that Sonia's 'foreign origin' issue was a matter for discussion and a way would be found out.

Surjeet was speaking to reporters after Gandhi drove down to his residence and had an hour-long interaction with him.

"We will all work together. It will be a coalition government and not that of any party... Congress strength is more and therefore it has to be acceptable," he said, when asked whether the coalition would be led by the Congress.

Asked whether the differences between Congress and Mulayam Singh Yadav-led Samajwadi Party would create hurdles in such an endeavour, the veteran Marxist leader said there were bigger differences between the Left and the Congress, including in Kerala and West Bengal, but it does not come in the way of meeting a challenge unitedly.

"We don't want any compromise, which will help the NDA. The NDA has been exposed as a front of the BJP. That is a big challenge. We should make people aware of it and not allow BJP to come to power," he said.

Asked whether smaller non-NDA parties could be supported by Congress from outside to form the government, Surjeet said, "Such support does not work. In my long experience in politics, such support by a bigger party has not worked."

He said the priority was to form a united front of non-NDA parties and the issue of formation of government was not that ticklish given the fact that there were many experienced leaders who had handled various portfolios.

In the NDA camp

NDA convenor George Fernandes met Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee to discuss the defeat of Naidu.

The two leaders are also understood to have discussed the exit polls that have predicted a hung Parliament with BJP-led NDA falling short of the magic figure of 272 in Lok Sabha.

This comes ahead of BJP leaders meeting the prime minister later in the day to chalk out a strategy for securing a simple majority to retain power.

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