Party leaders go all out to ‘coerce’ MLAs backing rebels to withdraw support

Fearing possible reverse in the Rajya Sabha elections, the Congress leadership went all out to ‘coerce’ the Seemandhra Congress MLAs who signed the nomination papers of the rebel candidates to withdraw their support.

Congress leaders were shaken as 30 MLAs had appended their signature to the nomination papers of MLC K. V. V. Satyanarayana Raju and party MLA from Sarvepalli, Adala Prabhakar Reddy. As soon as the strategy of the rebels became clear, PCC chief Botcha Satyanarayana besides Ministers -- Anam Ramanarayana Reddy and N. Raghuveera Reddy began exerting pressure on the MLAs to fall in line and withdraw their support.

They succeeded in forcing four MLAs -- G.V.Seshu, B.N. Vijay Kumar and Muthyala Papa and Neeraja -- to furnish letters to this effect to the Returning Officer.

Earlier in the day, the first sign of trouble was witnessed when two dozen SC/ST Ministers and MLAs held a meeting to protest against the Congress high command’s decision not to give another term to Nandi Yellaiah and T. Ratna Bai, who belong to the SC and ST community respectively.

In the presence of Ministers -- Dokka Manikya Varaprasad Rao, Kondru Murali, G.Prasada Kumar and P. Balaraju -- these MLAs even planned to field a candidate but, sensing trouble, the PCC chief assuaged their feelings and facilitated their meeting with AICC secretaries – R.C.Khuntia and Tirunavakarasu.

There was criticism over the nomination of T. Subbarami Reddy by MLAs who expressed scepticism about his contribution to the Samaikyandhra agitation. A Minister reportedly confronted AICC leaders saying that an opportunity should have been given to Finance Minister Anam Ramanarayana Reddy. They were pacified with the promise that the two outgoing MPs would be considered for Legislative Council under the Governor’s quota.

Congress circles were agog with the talk that a ‘hidden force’ was encouraging the rebels. A Minister sought to know why those backing the rebels were holding confabulations with a powerful Congress leader in the Assembly office chambers.

In a related development, a section of the Seemandhra Congress MLAs asked why the party was contesting only three seats when it could have fielded a fourth one, considering that it had 26 surplus votes. This was apparently aimed at paving the way for the TRS nominee to win the polls, they alleged.