Rahul, Naidu moves ahead to counter BJP in 2019

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Rahul, Naidu moves ahead to counter BJP in 2019

New Delhi: Congress President Rahul Gandhi and Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu on Thursday held discussions and decided to move ahead to unite the like-minded opposition parties to oust the BJP in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.

After an hour-long discussion, both leaders stressed the leadership issue will be discussed later and said their primary motive was to defeat the BJP as democracy and the institutions were being "attacked" by the Modi-led BJP government.

"We have to defend the future of the country. So, we are coming together. Both of us agree that we are going to talk about the future. The country is passing through a critical phase. Because of the situation, all opposition forces have to get together and provide a vision to the country," Gandhi told reporters with Naidu by his side.

Naidu said he along with Gandhi wanted a common platform "save nation, save democracy" for the opposition parties to defeat the BJP.

"We want to chalk out a programme for future to protect democracy and also the institutions. I am in politics for the last 40 years, but have never witnessed such attempts to demolish institutions such as the RBI, CBI, ED and Income Tax -- one by one. 

"You name any institution... even governors in the state and Supreme Court. You can see what happened in Rafale deal. We are very happy we are working together," Naidu said.

Asked who will be the face of the opposition camp, both Gandhi and Naidu stressed that the issue will be decided later as their primary target was to remove the BJP from power.

"We have agreed with the principle idea of defeating the BJP and to defend democracy and the institutions. All other ideas will be discussed later. Everybody is going to work together," said Gandhi. 

On his part, Naidu said: "It is a reality that the Congress is the principle opposition party and that other parties are backing it. We will sit together and chalk out a programme."

As reporters insisted on clearing the air about leadership issue, Naidu said: "You are more interested in candidate, while opposition parties are interested in the nation". 

"You also think about nation first. Save nation, save democracy. Then, we will think about anything (leadership). Our main motive is to save the nation," he said.

Gandhi said : "Your motive is sensationalism...But, we have to work together and deliver on people's aspirations. The principle challenge is to work together to defend India's institutions and democracy. Everything else is secondary."

To a question on Rafale, Gandhi said: "It is very clear that corruption has taken place. Institutions that can investigate Rafale are being attacked. If there is a proper inquiry in Rafale, it will become very clear what exactly happened...where the money went and who was involved in corruption. I believe the nation needs to know where corruption in Rafale has taken place. And that sentiment is shared by all opposition leaders."

Asked whether other opposition parties share the same sentiment on the Rafale controversy, Gandhi turned the mike towards Naidu and said: "Chandrababu can comment on that."