Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu, who is on a day-long fast to demand special status for his state, said that aligning with the BJP was a political compulsion, but forming an anti-BJP front has become a “democratic compulsion”.
“All central institutions are being demolished, democracy is in danger. That’s why we all have come together,” Mr Naidu told NDTV at Andhra Bhavan in Delhi.
The Telugu Desam Party (TDP), led by Chandrababu Naidu, had pulled out of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) over what its chief described as “unfulfilled promises” and “injustice” done to Andhra Pradesh after Telangana was carved out of it in 2014. After quitting the NDA in March last year, the TDP had also moved a ”no-confidence motion” in the Monsoon session of parliament in July, but it was defeated.
On Sunday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Andhra Pradesh for the first time since the break-up and during a rally accused Mr Naidu of being a party-hopper and betraying everybody from allies to his own family. “He deceived his father-in-law (NT Rama Rao),” PM Modi said at a rally in Guntur yesterday.
In a stinging rebuttal, the TDP chief said he doesn’t need lessons from a person who doesn’t respect his guru and failed his family. Mr Naidu first offered a clarification and then attacked PM Modi.
Rejecting the “backstabbing” allegation, Mr Naidu said, “Our party was facing a threat at the time. All the members of my family and the party took a decision to save the party.”
He clarified that he doesn’t like to make personal attacks, but was compelled to do so. “I am a proud father to Lokesh, a proud husband and a grandfather. I want to ask Modi ji, what is his identity. He talks about triple talaq, the rights of women, but what about him? When somebody crosses the line, we have to hit him the same way, only then he will understand,” the TDP leader said justifying his reaction.
His criticism of the Prime Minister didn’t end there.
Referring to senior BJP leader LK Advani, Mr Naidu said, “What about Advani? He is your political guru. He saved you in Gujarat riots. You wanted to become the Prime Minister, you became. But when your guru wanted to become the president, you had cases filed against him. When he (Mr Advani) wishes him, Modi never wishes him back. And he is attacking me?”
To PM Modi’s statement that Chandrababu Naidu is senior to me only in things like “switching sides and forming new alliances”, the TDP leader said, “I became the chief minister in 1996 and Modi became the chief minister of Gujarat in 2002, several years after me. I have already spent four decades in politics.”