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Naidu admits UF's failure, goes soft on BJP - The Indian Express

Express News Services ()
March 4, 1998

Title: Naidu admits UF's failure, goes soft on BJP
Author: Express News Services
Publication: The Indian Express
Date: March 4, 1998

Retracting from his earlier statement that the Lok Sabha
elections were a referendum on his government, Andhra Pradesh
Chief Minister N Chandrahabu Naidu said he has kept his options
open on extending the Telugu Desam Party's (TDP) support to
either the Congress or BJP at the Centre.

Addressing mediapersons here today, he said that the TDP
politburo would meet in a day or two to discuss the "new
political situation" at the national level and take a decision on
the party's role in the post-poll scenario.

On Communist Party of India (Marxist) general secretary Harkishen
Singh Surjeet's statement supporting a Congress-led coalition,
Naidu said, "That may be his opinion, not of the United Front".
He admitted that the TDP had "genuine problems" on choosing
either the Congress or the BJP.

On the factors that might have worked against the TDP, he said
that the voters appeared to have been influenced by the BJP
campaign that they alone could provide a stable government at the
Centre. "Even some of our party sympathisers voted for the BJP
this time," he said.

He also admitted that the UF failed to convince people that it
could provide a stable government at the Centre. Asked whether
the UF experiment had failed, Naidu said, "From the beginning we
tried to put up a united show but failed to project a cohesive
and strong image=94.

"Till yesterday, I had said that the UF would form a government
on its own, that we would stall the BJP from coming to power and
that the Congress would not come to power under any
circumstances. How can I take a decision on the matter
suddenly?" he asked.

Flanked by Ministers T Devender Goud and P Ashok Gajapathi Raju,
Naidu said that the TDP had suffered reverses compared to the
1996 election but attributed this to the people's desire for a
stable government at the Centre.

Pointing out that the TDP lost in as many as 10 seats by narrow
margins, he felt that the party's show was not that bad.

While the TDP won 12 seats, its allies posted victory in three

Ridiculing Pradesh Congress Committee president Mallikarjun's
demand for his resignation n moral grounds", the Chief Minister
said, "He himself has lost the election and has no locus standi
to make such a demand. I pity him". Moreover, it was not correct
to treat the polls as a referendum on his government.

Reminded that he had himself considered the polls as a
referendum, Naidu justified his earlier statement on the ground
that it was meant to enthuse his party cadre.

However, he was ready to review and amend some of his policies in
the light of the electoral outcome.

Naidu pointed out that the anti-incumbency factor worked all over
the country and ruling parties in various states had suffered
reverses in the election.

He quoted the example of Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa,
Tamil Nadu, Bihar and Rajasthan.

Compared to the position in those states, the TDP performed
reasonably well though it lost a few seats, he said, while
accusing the Congress candidates of using money power to win the

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