YSR Congress Party president Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy today said his party will offer support to any candidate that the BJP fields for the upcoming presidential election. He told this to Prime Minister Narendra Modi during a meeting with him which lasted for over half an hour at the latter’s official residence here. “We will support any candidate the BJP fields as we have very less difference in opinion. Except for differences on the land acquisition bill and special status for Andhra Pradesh, we share similar opinions on various issues which we think are pro-people,” Jagan said. “Also, the BJP has enough support for its candidate to win. Opposing their candidate and fielding another will not make sense,” he said.
Interestingly, Jagan is the leader of opposition in the Andhra Pradesh Assembly where the ruling TDP is a partner of the BJP-led NDA alliance, which is in power at the Centre. The presidential election is scheduled in July and opposition unity for contesting it may well be a precursor to an anti-NDA front ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha election. CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury recently met Congress president Sonia Gandhi to explore the possibility of fielding a joint candidate for the presidential poll, even as RJD boss Lalu Prasad talked about cobbling together a Bihar-style ‘mahagathbandhan’ (grand alliance).
During today’s meeting, Jagan raised several issues with the prime minister and also demanded disqualification of four MLAs from his party who switched over to the Telugu Desam Party and were made ministers in the recent Cabinet reshuffle. He also sought justice for those affected in the Agri Gold Estates and Farms scam, better support price for chilli farmers in Andhra Pradesh and granting special status for the state. “We also gave a booklet, ‘Emperor of Corruption’, brought out by the YSRCP, to the prime minister. The booklet talks about the corruption by Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu,” he said.