The Congress leadership on Tuesday was engaged in marathon meetings with senior party leaders from Telangana and Seemandhra. The regions would become separate States after the Lok Sabha and Assembly elections which are scheduled to be held simultaneously in Andhra Pradesh.
According to party sources, talks on the Seemandhra leaders’ desire to revive the government in Andhra Pradesh, ahead of a formal division of the State and elections, remained inconclusive. In contrast, the Telangana leaders want immediate elections to cash in on the euphoria over creation of the new State.
A final call on imposing President’s rule or forming a new government with a Chief Minister from Seemandhra will be taken on Wednesday after Congress president Sonia Gandhi returns from Rae Bareli.
Party sources said the Congress’s national leadership was keen on imposing President’s rule as the Lok Sabha and Assembly elections in Andhra Pradesh are due in end-April, early May. However, Seemandhra leaders feel the government’s revival even for two months will help stem the exodus from the party.
For the Chief Minister’s post there are two contenders from the Kapu community — actor and Union Minister Chiranjeevi and State Cabinet Minister Kanna Lakshminarayana. The logic is that an appeal can be made to the Kapu community to vote for Congress by appointing a Kapu CM. The Reddy’s — the backbone of the Congress — have either joined Jagan Mohan Reddy’s party or become part of former Chief Minister Kiran Kumar Reddy’s flock.
Those who attended Tuesday’s meeting at the party’s War Room on Gurdwara Rakabganj Road included General Secretary in-charge of Andhra Pradesh Digvijaya Singh, Union Ministers Ghulam Nabi Azad and Jairam Ramesh, and Ms. Gandhi’s political secretary Ahmed Patel, apart from a host of Seemandhra leaders.
Majority of the Seemandhra Congress leaders wanted the Assembly polls to be postponed by at least six months so as to revive the party’s fortunes in the region.
Facing virtual revolt and strong backlash from the people, aggrieved by what they call a unilateral decision to divide the State, Pradesh Congress Committee president Botcha Satyanarayana and other senior leaders made a plea to consider postponement of polls.
They contended that if the Lok Sabha and Assembly elections were held separately, the anger of Seemandhra voters against the Congress would be reflected during the parliamentary polls. By the time, the Assembly elections are held, the voter rage against Congress could subside.
Their case is that if the elections were held separately, the support base of the YSR Congress Party would dwindle by the time Assembly elections are held.
Vice-Chairman of National Disaster Management Authority Marri Sashidhar Reddy has been pitching for the postponement of polls on the grounds that delimitation of Assembly constituencies should be completed. He wanted the number of Assembly constituencies in Telangana to go up to 153 from 119.
(With additional reporting by Ravi Reddy in Hyderabad)