Stopping short of proposing Rahul Gandhi’s name as the prime ministerial candidate of the Opposition, TDP supremo N Chandrababu Naidu on Tuesday said the Congress chief was a "good leader who has concerns for the nation" while Narendra Modi "tries to rule by threatening others".
"He (Rahul Gandhi) is a good leader. He has concerns for the nation, unlike Narendra Modi, who is hollow and never listens to anybody. Modi tries to rule by threatening others," the Andhra Pradesh chief minister said in an interview with PTI.
Naidu, who severed ties with the NDA over special category status to Andhra Pradesh last year, however, said he was not in the race for the PM post.
"Mine is a new state, I have to develop it further. Secondly, my number is only 25 (Lok Sabha seats in Andhra Pradesh). The number is very less. I can contribute to nation building and support others," he said.
Naidu also pulged that regional parties would reach a consensus on the prime ministerial candidate of a non-BJP front after tallying the number of seats each party gets following results on May 23. "All of us will sit together and reach a consensus to build the future of this country," he said.
However, the TDP chief acknowledged that the experiment of forming a United Front government from 1996-1998 failed because the Congress was kept out of the government.
"In 1996, there was an experiment. It failed. As we kept the Congress outside they withdrew support. So for a more stable government, all of us have to come together," he said. The Congress had provided outside support to the United Front government in 1996 but pulled the plug later.
Claiming that Modi had become desperate on realising that he was losing the Lok Sabha elections, Naidu said the PM had resorted to accusing and abusing opposition leaders at every election rally.
"There is anti-incumbency. PM Modi tried his best, but he has no achievement. Because of that, he started talking about Pulwama (terror attack) and (Balakot) air strikes. In every meeting, he is accusing and abusing opposition leaders," the TDP chief said.
On Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao’s effort to cobble up a Third Front, Naidu wondered whether such a proposition would really work.
"Is it really possible? Someone thinks that somebody (Congress) will support them from outside out of compulsion? If nobody extends support then what will happen?" he said.