'Slighted' Naidu quits UF; floats new front
In a quick turn of events, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister and Telugu Desam Party president N Chandrababu Naidu has parted company with the United Front and appealed to all anti-Congress political forces to join a new front.
Addressing the media at his Jubilee Hills home in Hyderabad, Naidu said he felt slighted at being ignored by the UF core committee which met at New Delhi yesterday and 'unilaterally decided' to support an UF-Congress consensus candidate for the Lok Sabha Speaker's post.
''It is most humiliating and insulting that the UF leaders ignored the TDP, hurting Telugu pride and self-respect,'' he said.
Detailing the sequence of events, Naidu claimed that, though UF chairman and former prime minister H D Deve Gowda spoke to him on Saturday, he did not inform him about Sunday's crucial core meeting. ''All that he said was the UF leaders were meeting 'informally','' said Naidu.
''And how they have taken a unilateral decision to support the Congress though, I, as UF convener over the last one-and-a-half years, have been working to ensure that all decisions were taken through consensus.''
Even the Asom Gana Parishad, an UF constituent, was not consulted or informed about Sunday's meeting, said Naidu. ''The UF is going one-sided and all-out in supporting the Congress, which is my main rival in the state.''
In a letter addressed to Deve Gowda, a copy of which was released to the media in Hyderabad, he said he was 'very much' pained at the UF's 'unprincipled and unilateral' decision, deliberately ignoring his 'feelings and pleadings'.
Naidu said it was strange that the Congress's ''treacherous
record of continuous destabilisation of the UF and pulling
down of the combine's two successive governments has been so easily forgotten.
''I feel terribly sad that the great experiment of the United
Front is failing and the edifice built by our joint efforts is crumbling before our very eyes,'' he had written to Deve Gowda.
The chief minister said his decision to quit the UF was 'final' and 'irrevocable'.
''I have taken the decision in the interest of the party and
the state,'' he added.
Stating that the TDP would stick to his stand of maintaining 'equidistance' from the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party, he claimed that his seeking the saffron brigade's support for the Speaker's election would not send a wrong signal.
Asked whether his party would abstain from voting when the BJP-led coalition seeks a trust vote on Friday, he said, ''The TDP will remain neutral. The Speaker's election and the confidence vote are different issues.''
Replying to a question, he said that ''even now I am not supporting the BJP. We are not interested in joining the BJP government.''
He parried most of the questions, like whether he still
considered the BJP a communal party.
His stock reply to the spate of questions was that the TDP would
take into account all factors and decide at an appropriate time.
As for the future plans, Naidu said his Jammu and Kashmir counterpart and National Conference leader Dr Farooq Abdullah, Assam Chief Minister and Asom Gana Parishad leader Prafulla Kumar Mohanta and himself would meet soon to work out the details regarding the front.
He said the TDP was not interested in power. ''It has decided to
put up G M C Balayogi for the Speakership, prompted by the
party's anti-Congress sentiment,'' he said. ''It was important to fight the Congress candidate.''
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