Congress rift in Andhra Pradesh after election results

Congress rift in Andhra Pradesh after election results
Hyderabad:  The Congress in Andhra Pradesh has been battling on many fronts, especially the Telangana issue, which has given Chief Minister Kiran Kumar Reddy a hard time. And adding to his woes are the Congress' dismal performance in the recently-held by-elections.

Health Minister D L Ravindra Reddy, who sent in his resignation to Congress president Sonia Gandhi yesterday, is coming to Delhi today to meet her. Mr Reddy had resigned yesterday citing the ruling Congress' poor performance in the by-elections. Mr Reddy reportedly took the blame for the party's defeat.

The Congress lost all the six seats it contested in Telangana while the Telangana Rashtriya Samiti (TRS) won four, the BJP and an Independent won one each.

The party is also battling criticism from its leaders who belong to the Telangana region. Like K Keshav Rao who has been critical of Chief Minister Kiran Kumar Reddy after his lobbying for Rajya Sabha seat failed.

These ministers and legislators from Telangana are planning a trip to Delhi after the Budget session of state Legislature ends on March 29 to impress upon the party high command the "pressing need" for a clear decision on the contentious statehood demand.

They are expected to tell the high command that "any more indecisiveness will only ruin the party further", sources said.

But that's not all. Shankar Rao, who was dropped as the Textiles Minister by the Chief Minister Kiran Kumar Reddy in January this year, has filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) against Mr Reddy, the Forest Minister, and Principal Secretary Environment and Forests alleging that the disposal of red sandalwood had caused huge loss to exchequer. Mr Rao is the same man who went to court against Jagan Mohan Reddy and was rewarded by being made Textiles Minister. Damodar Rajanarasimha, Deputy Chief Minister and a Dalit leader from Telangana, is also adding to the Chief Minister's woes by criticising his decisions.

Though Congress is on the backfoot in the state, the Chief Minister's camp is not ready to take the detractors' attack kindly and wants to hit back "with facts".

In an apparent effort to deflect the blame from him, Mr Reddy has asked his so-called 'loyalists' to push a report to the Congress high command listing how some senior leaders from Telangana worked against the party to help the TRS.

"There was clear hedging between some senior Telangana Congress leaders and TRS.  Barring Warangal MP S Rajaiah, no other Congress MP from Telangana campaigned for the party candidates and most of the ministers from the region too kept themselves away, taking cover in the ongoing Budget session of Legislature.

"Kiran Kumar took the onus on him and campaigned in all the six constituencies," his loyalists point out.

They were also compiling the statements made by the Telangana Congress leaders that the party stood no chance of winning even a single seat in the by-elections despite the fact that there was a "positive trend" in a couple of constituencies.

"We came second in four constituencies and also succeeded in curtailing the victory margins considerably as compared to the previous by-elections.

"It only proved that there is no anti-incumbency against the government or antipathy towards the Congress," the Chief Minister's loyalists aver.

"The report is almost finalised and we will forward it to Sonia Gandhi immediately," an MLC in Kiran's camp said.

The rift is bound to land the Congress in a serious trouble with by-polls to 18 assembly and one Lok Sabha seat coming up in September this year. By-elections to 17 assembly seats are all necessitated by MLAs switching loyalty; one of these by-election will be held in the Telangana region. The 18th by-poll will be held on the Tirupati seat which actor-turned-politician Chiranjeevi quit to to take up Rajya Sabha seat. Election will also be held on the Nellore Lok Sabha seat as one of the loyalists of Jagan Mohan Reddy, Mekapati Ram Mohan, resigned from there.

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