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Won’t join NDA for 2019 elections even if approached by BJP: Chandrababu Naidu

NEW DELHI

Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister and TDP president N Chandrababu Naidu today said his party will not join the NDA even if the BJP approaches it for the 2019 general elections.

He said the party’s no-confidence motion against the government was a battle of “morality versus majority”.

Asserting that the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) had joined the NDA in 2014 only to ensure justice to the people of the state, Naidu said, “We are not power hungry. We never aspired for cabinet berths.”

“We waited four years for them (BJP government) to do justice to Andhra Pradesh, but they betrayed the people of the state. How can we be sure that they will not do it again,” he said.

“Yesterday’s no-confidence motion was a battle between our morality and the majority of the BJP,” Naidu told a press conference here, as he thanked the other opposition parties for supporting the TDP’s no-trust motion.

The NDA government yesterday defeated the no-confidence motion after a marathon debate that lasted for nearly 12 hours. When the division was held at 11.10 pm last night, the ayes for the no-confidence were 126 and the noes 325.

On the BJD staging a walkout from Parliament during the debate on the no-confidence motion yesterday, exposing chinks in Opposition unity, Naidu said, “He (BJD chief Naveen Patnaik) is an old friend… They will be taken on board.”

The TDP chief had in May vowed to unite regional parties to take on the BJP in 2019 Lok Sabha elections and had said that his party would play a pivotal role at the Centre.

Naidu today reiterated that he has no prime ministerial ambitions.

Asked if the TDP would join the NDA for the 2019 elections if the BJP promises other benefits to Andhra Pradesh, he said, “No. I just want that justice is done to my state.”

The TDP had formally quit the BJP-led NDA earlier this year after the latter denied special category to the state.

Contesting Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s remark in the Lok Sabha that special status cannot be extended to the state “as the Fourteenth Finance Commission (FCC) does not allow it”, the Andhra Pradesh chief minister claimed, “The FFC says it does not have any role in it… don’t drag us into it. It is the government which has to take a call.”

He also attacked Union minister Arun Jaitley for “denying special status to Andhra Pradesh and then extending the same to northeastern states”.

Naidu said that it was “unwise” on Modi’s part to compare his “able leadership with tainted politicians” during a discussion on the no-confidence motion in the Lok Sabha yesterday.

On the prime minister terming Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao more mature than Naidu, the Andhra Pradesh chief minister said, “I am senior to the prime minister himself. How can he say that? I became chief minister in 1995 while Modi became the chief minister of Gujarat in 2001.”

He alleged that neither Modi nor Home Minister Rajnath Singh tried to find a solution to the problems between Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.

Referring to Modi’s remark that the “Congress killed the mother and saved the child. Had I have been there, I would have saved the mother too”, he said, “We have waited for years for him to do so.”

“We’re still asking him to save the mother,” Naidu said.

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