While former Union ministers such as Kotla Suryaprakash Reddy, Killi Kruparani, Panabaka Lakshmi, etc, of the Congress are in favour of sailing with the TDP in Andhra Pradesh, the second-rung leadership opposes the idea
Amaravati: Trouble is brewing in the Andhra Pradesh unit of the Congress. Many senior leaders, especially former Union ministers, are expected to quit the party to join either the Telugu Desam Party or YSR Congress, led by Jaganmohan Reddy.
Much to the chagrin of its leaders, the Andhra Pradesh Congress has finally decided to go it alone in the forthcoming general elections and contest all the 175 Assembly seats and 25 Lok Sabha constituencies.
The Andhra Pradesh Congress Committee (APCC) is a house divided as far as the proposal to have a tie-up with the ruling Telugu Desam Party (TDP) is concerned. While former Union ministers such as Kotla Suryaprakash Reddy, Killi Kruparani, Panabaka Lakshmi, etc, are in favour of sailing with the TDP, the second-rung leadership does not support the idea.
The decision was conveyed to the state Congress leadership a day after chief minister and TDP chief N Chandrababu Naidu called on Congress president Rahul Gandhi in New Delhi.
According to a senior leader, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, reviving the party in Andhra Pradesh might not be the top priority for the Congress at this juncture.
Congress' principal objective is to defeat the BJP at the Centre, which calls for more numbers in the Lok Sabha. As the Congress found a new friend in Naidu, it will grant him his wish to go it alone and get more Lok Sabha seats in 2019. Naidu, according to sources, has conveyed to the Congress the message that the TDP cadre are opposed to joining hands with a beleaguered Congress. According to sources in the TDP, Naidu and Rahul agreed upon this arrangement in the state while working together at the Centre to ensure BJP's defeat.
But the decision hasn't gone down well with the senior leaders of the Congress.
First to express dissatisfaction is Kotla Suryaprakash Reddy, who is all set to join the TDP. Reddy has called for a meeting with the followers tomorrow to take a final call. A senior leader from APCC said the reaction was expected. A few more leaders such as Panabaka Lakshmi and Killi Kruparani are likely to open up against the decision soon.
An aide of Kotla Surya Prakash Reddy said that the Congress should have persuaded Naidu to align with the TDP.
"Once a party of the masses, the Congress lost its base following the bifurcation of the state in 2014. While backward classes gravitated towards Naidu because of the welfare schemes, Reddys, a powerful land-owning community, who traditionally were with the Congress for 60 years, have gone to YSR Congress led by YS Jaganmohan Reddy. Now, with Naidu's strong anti-BJP rhetoric, TDP is winning over the Muslims as well. What are the sections left with the Congress? Revival of the party is not possible without a tie-up," the aide continued stating that this was the reason for Kotla's ire against the high command.
Meanwhile, the Congress has a different story to tell. The decision has certainly not been influenced by Naidu, says Janga Gowtham, APCC general secretary.
"It was a well-thought-out decision. Though a few senior leaders have pitched for a tie up with the TDP, the majority is not ready to go with the TDP, which is seen as anti-Congress. The party has sought opinion from the cadre and leaders before arriving at this decision," Gowtham said.
"The decision is driven by three genuine reasons, all put forth by Andhra Pradesh unit of the Congress. One, after the Telangana debacle, it is clear that the people are not receptive to the idea of a Congress-TDP tie up. Two, it will be ridiculous to join hands with a party whose misrule, corruption and act of failing in getting the special status for Andhra Pradesh we have fought against for four-and-a-half years. Three, the Congress has re-established its contact with the masses with sincere efforts, and we are confident of regaining the lost ground," Gowtham said.
Many Congress leaders are wary of the anti-incumbency factor as well. If the party allies with the TDP, which loses due to anti-incumbency, it could affect the Congress's prospect of a revival in the state. So, Andhra Pradesh Congress thinks that party president Rahul Gandhi's promise to affix the first signature on the file related to granting special status to Andhra Pradesh, once in power, is the trump card in the elections.
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Last Updated Jan 24, 2019, 7:15 PM IST