Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu. (Express photo)
Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu has asked for postponement of the fourth Niti Aayog governing council meeting in view of Eid celebrations. In a letter to Aayog chairman Rajiv Kumar, Naidu has expressed his inability to attend the event, scheduled on June 17, as his presence in the state for “Eid Milap” is essential. The letter is being seen as an overture by Naidu towards minorities in Andhra Pradesh. Following his alliance with the BJP in 2014, which broke recently, Muslims have kept away from the TDP.
West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee had expressed inability to attend the meet, as it was earlier scheduled on June 16, the day of Eid. After the meet was rescheduled to June 17, she is expected to attend. Naidu has sought the meeting to be rescheduled for either that afternoon or June 18.
“The festival of Eid Ul Fitar is being celebrated on 16th June and on 17th June morning the traditional Eid Milap will take place. Since the festival is very important to the Muslim community, our presence in the state headquarters is essential,” Naidu wrote.
Facing both Assembly and Lok Sabha polls in 2019, Naidu is looking at multiple challenges at present: of beating anti-incumbency, a resurgent YSR Congress, and a belligerent BJP. In this context, TDP would like to do well in minority-dominated areas, having fared poorly in Rayalaseema region, which has a sizable Muslim population, in 2014.
“We never played communal politics (but) our alliance with BJP dented our secular image somewhat. We are confident of doing well in minority areas,” a TDP leader said.