Denial of entry passes by the party leadership the trigger

Congress MPs from Seemandhra kicked up a row and even threatened to stage a dharna outside the venue of the AICC meeting in New Delhi on Friday as they are among those denied entry passes by the central leadership.

The AICC has sent invitations to all its 66 members, who include Ministers, MPs, MLAs and party functionaries, but not to the 70-odd co-opted members from both regions. While those from Telangana, including former Speaker K. R. Suresh Reddy, are camping in Delhi in the hope of securing passes, Seemandhra MPs have blasted the high command. They claimed that the leadership, anticipating trouble and fearing diversion of attention from party vice-president Rahul Gandhi, had refused invitations to Lagadapati Rajagopal, Vundavalli Arun Kumar, Sabbam Hari, A. Saipratap, G. V. Harsha Kumar and Rayapati Sambasiva Rao, all MPs, who have been vocal in their opposition to bifurcation.

Kiran seeks exemption

Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy wrote to AICC general secretary Janardhan Dwivedi to exempt him from attending the meeting.

According to sources, Mr. Reddy in his letter informed the AICC leader that in view of the crucial Assembly session in midst of important discussions on the AP Reorganisation Bill 2013, members may take serious objection to his absence. “Therefore, I may be exempted from attending the AICC meeting,” Mr. Reddy said in the letter.

Former Ministers J. C. Diwakar Reddy and Gade Venkat Reddywere also sore at not being invited.

Reacting sharply, Mr. Sabbam Hari and Mr. Rajagopal hit out at the high command. “The Congress is dealing a body blow to party democracy by not allowing a resolution by the MPs on Samaikyandhra in the session despite it being submitted within the prescribed time of 15 days,” Mr. Hari said in Visakhapatnam on Thursday.

Citing instances of internal democracy in the party, he said in conducting the election for the AICC president post when Jitendra Prasada contested against Sonia Gandhi, it was now out to crush all dissent. If the party feared that such a resolution would cause pandemonium, it should amend the rules disallowing such moves, he said.

In Guntur, Mr Rajagopal said he would ‘voice the aspirations’ of Seemandhra people at the AICC meeting.