Minister for Agriculture Kanna Lakshminarayana on Thursday denied reports that the Congress high command had struck a deal with him and said that he had never been in the race for the post of Chief Minister.

A TV channel aired a report in the morning stating that the party leadership had struck a deal with Mr. Lakshminarayana in its bid to fast-track the process of bifurcation of the state.

Mr. Lakshminarayana said that he had been a loyal party man since his days as a student leader and had never aspired for positions.

“I condemn the reports which have cast aspersions on my character. These kinds of reports are aimed at character assassination,’’ Mr. Lakshminarayana told reporters here.

The reports come in the wake of reports of the party high command being displeased with Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy, who has been defying the party’s stand on the division of the State ever since the CWC too a decision.

Political circles have been abuzz ever since Congress president Sonia Gandhi held one-to-one meeting with Mr. Lakshminarayana in New Delhi on Monday.

The senior Congress leader was believed to have briefed Ms. Gandhi on the prevailing situation in the State during the meeting which lasted 15 minutes. Mr. Lakshminarayana was the first State Minister from the Coastal Andhra region to have met Ms. Sonia Gandhi since the decision on bifurcation.