Party names little known faces as Council candidates

After 48-hour long suspense, Congress party’s central leadership sprang a surprise by ignoring the claims of seniors and favouring two little known faces among the five candidates cleared for the Council polls from Assembly.

Pradesh Congress Committee president Botcha Satyanarayana flanked by Deputy Chief Minister C. Damodar Raj Narasimha announced the names at a press conference here on Sunday evening.

The party decided to retain Ponguleti Sudhakar Reddy and Ms. Lakshmi Siva Kumar, while selecting former Minister Md. Ali Shabbir, former MLA Kolagatla Veerabhadraswamy and former Karimnagar ZP chief T. Santosh Kumar. The names of the four other candidates to be nominated by Governor were not announced.

In its elaborate exercise, the party went by caste, regional and district equations. Of the five, three hail from Telangana and the remaining two from Andhra region. Mr. Sudhakar Reddy got the nod as he holds the position of AICC secretary, while Ms. Siva Kumar from East Godavari district and belonging to the SC community, is considered the face of women self help group members. She gets full six year term as her present stint was less than two years.

Mr. Md Ali Shabbir is a senior State Congress leader and a close aide of AICC general secretary Ghulam Nabi Azad.

The surprise selection was that of T. Santosh Kumar, who edged out party veterans and seniors. A close follower of Civil Supplies Minister D. Sridhar Babu, he is a BC and headed the Karimnagar Zilla Parishad and District Congress Committee. The claims of R. Raghuram Reddy and APCC general secretary Nerella Sharada, who were propped up by Chief Minister, were ignored.

Mr. Veerabhadraswamy, a Vysya belonging to Vizianagaram district is the choice of the PCC chief.

Talking to reporters, Mr. Satyanarayana said the party has nominated an SC, a Muslim minority, two OCs and a BC in the list. “We will follow the same criteria for the four other candidates to be nominated by the Governor,” he said.

The party is said to be seriously mulling fielding of a sixth candidate to create confusion in the Opposition ranks.

“We will discuss the issue with the party leaders and seniors and take a call on the sixth candidate on Monday,” Mr. Satyanarayana said. The move is likely to make the TRS and the YSR Congress sit up and redraw their strategies to ensure victory of their candidates. The two parties have less than the required numbers of votes to get their candidates elected but are banking on rebels in the Congress.

The five candidates would file their nomination papers on Monday afternoon at 1.30 pm. The outgoing members who were not considered are: Kandula Lakshmi Durgesh, S. Indrasain Reddy, Pulla Padmavati and Bharati Ragya Naik.