No promises yet, Lalu and Naidu play safe on post-poll alliance

Written by Political Bureau | New Delhi Nov 21 | Updated: Nov 23 2008, 04:39am hrs
Refusing to rule out the possibility of a Third Front, TDP chief N Chandrababu Naidu as well as RJD leader Lalu Prasad Yadav on Friday avoided committing themselves to a government led by a BJP or a Congress Prime Minister after the 2009 Lok Sabha elections.

It is not possible to say at this junture. Who becomes prime minister after the Lok Sabha elections will depend on how many seats political parties are able to win, Naidu maintained, while answering questions at the HT leadership summit here on Friday. He, however, contended that both the BJP and the Congress were on a decline since the last two decades and regional outfits were gaining strength.

On his part, the RJD chief, who shared the platform with Naidu at the event, sought to be more diplomatic in his remarks. Barring someone from the BJP, anybody can become the Prime Minister, he quipped.

The RJD chief also conceded that he did have an ambition to become the Prime Minister, saying there was nothing wrong in nurturing hopes. People have aims and ambition. There is nothing wrong in this. When I have to become (the PM), I will become. But everything (in politics) is fixed (pre-determined), he said.

In this context, he referred to how HD Deve Gowda and IK Gujral became the Prime Ministers during the United Front rule and said we tipped (veteran Marxist leader) Jyoti Basu, but there also the CPI(M) faulted, by not allowing him to take up the post.

The RJD chief also kept alive scope of joining hands with the TDP at the Centre, when he expressed the hope that Naidu would not share space with the BJP this time. While refusing to openly endorse the possibility of a non-Congress, non-BJP front, Lalu said that he was regularly in touch with parties like the TDP.

The TDP, which is feeling the squeeze in Andhra Pradesh because of the Chiranjeevi led Praja Rajyam, is trying hard to put a third front in place before the Lok Sabha elections. As part of the process, Naidu also held a meeting with old ally CPIM this evening by calling on party general secretary Prakash Karat.

Following the meeting, the two parties announced that they would, along with like-minded parties like BSP, demand a roll-back of the hiked prices of petroleum products in the wake of a downward trend in the international crude prices.