New Delhi: TDP supremo and Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu, in his bid to unite the opposition parties to take on the BJP in the Lok Sabha elections next year, on Thursday met Congress president Rahul Gandhi at the latter’s residence in the national capital. Also Read - Amitabh Bachchan Takes Second Dose Of Coronavirus Vaccine, Shares Picture

The parties will work to ensure that the attack on democratic institutions stops, Gandhi said after meeting Naidu, who is trying to unite opposition parties to take on the saffron party in the Lok Sabha elections next year. Also Read - Cyclone Tauktae Intensifies into Very Severe Cyclonic Storm; Heavy Rain Likely in Mumbai | LIVE

Gandhi said opposition parties will work together on most important issues, including unemployment and corruption in the Rafale fighter jet deal. Also Read - Deeply Disturbed, Dismayed By Israel Strike On Gaza Media Building, Says UN Chief | LIVE Updates

“It is very clear that corruption is taking place. Institutions that can investigate are being attacked… A proper inquiry on what all happened, where the money went and who did corruption… That is what I am pushing very aggressively. Nation wants to know this,” the Congress president said.

“We had a very good meeting, the gist was that we have to defend democracy and future of the country. So we are coming together to work, all opposition forces must unite,” he said.

Naidu also echoed Gandhi’s statement saying that “they are coming together to save the nation”.

“We are coming together, to save the nation. We have to forget the past, now it is a democratic compulsion to unite. All opposition needs to be one,” said Naidu.

Naidu and Gandhi’s statements dropped big hint towards the two leaders joining hands for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. The TDP and the Congress are already believed to have decided to go hands-in-hands for the Telangana Assembly elections, and talks over seat sharing were also reportedly held today.

Earlier, today, Naidu met NCP chief Sharad Pawar and National Conference president Farooq Abdullah in the national capital.

According to TDP sources, Naidu “coincidentally” also met senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad at the Indira Gandhi International Airport here and briefly discussed about the need to bring all non-BJP political parties together.

“We decided to meet in Delhi to chalk out a plan to protect the future of the nation,” Naidu said after the meeting.

Sharad Pawar said: “We are here today to welcome other opposition parties to come join us. Let us stand united against this government. What is happening in the CBI, the Enforcement Department and the Reserve Bank is for everyone to see.”

Naidu is playing the role of a “facilitator” to bring together all opposition parties to stop the BJP juggernaut in the 2019 general elections, a party leader said.

Last week, Naidu had said that “political compulsions” will force non-BJP parties to come together to form a third front against the BJP.

Naidu, a former BJP ally who quit the NDA early this year over the Centre’s refusal to grant special status to Andhra Pradesh, met BSP chief Mayawati, Jammu and Kashmir National Conference president Farooq Abdullah and former BJP leader Yashwant Sinha here in the national capital on October 27.

So far, Naidu has kept his cards close to his chest on seeking support of the Congress to forge a united front ahead of the Lok Sabha polls.

He had earlier said that his party would play a pivotal role in the 2019 polls and that regional parties would form government at the Centre, though he had ruled himself out of the prime ministerial race.

According to TDP sources, Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav spoke to Naidu over the phone yesterday and the latter will visit Delhi every week to speed up the process of uniting opposition parties.

The TDP had earlier criticised the Congress on the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh. Meeting with Gandhi is seen as fresh efforts to align with the party ahead of the Lok Sabha polls.

After BJP leader B S Yeddyurappa resigned as Karnataka chief minister before a no-confidence vote just two days after being sworn in, Naidu had termed the saffron party a “back door party” trying to enter south India by “unfair” means.

The Andhra Pradesh government has also accused the Centre of not supporting it in the construction of the Polavaram irrigation project, Kadapa steel plant, building a new capital city, and doing a flip flop on special package for the state on the lines of Bundelkhand region.