How many Lok Sabha seats can you give us, AICC leader asks them

“How many Lok Sabha seats are you going to give us from Seemandhra region if we decide against dividing the State?” was the pointed question reportedly posed by AICC leaders to T.G. Venkatesh and three other Ministers during their meeting in New Delhi on Wednesday.

Mr. Venkatesh, Kasu Venkat Krishna Reddy, Erasu Pratap Reddy and Pinipe Viswaroop had an unpleasant experience when this question was posed by senior Congress leader Mr. Vayalar Ravi. The tone and tenor of AICC general secretary Ghulam Nabi Azad was no different as he too virtually grilled them over the question whether Seemandhra leaders were confident of winning a sufficient number of Lok Sabha seats in the next general elections.

Mr. Ravi was quoted as telling these Ministers that the Jagan factor was strong in Seemandhra while the pro-Telangana sentiment still prevailed. “Telangana Congress leaders have promised us 16 out of 17 Lok Sabha seats in Telangana, if a separate State is carved out. Can you also give us a similar assurance if State is not divided?” he is believed to have asked the Ministers reminding them that it was on the strength of 33 MPs from Andhra Pradesh that the UPA rode back to power.

The Ministers were virtually tongue-tied and tried to argue that the Congress government would collapse if bifurcation took place. Mr. Ravi reportedly said the high command was quite conscious about the risks involved, including the very survival of the government if the State was divided.

He made it amply clear to the State Ministers that the high command was capable of grooming new faces and that the defection of a few leaders would not affect the Congress party’s prospects, sources said.

‘Too late’

He pointed out candidly that the Seemandhra leaders had come too late when the high command was almost getting ready to announce its decision.

“The all-party meeting saw majority parties favouring Telangana,” he said and reportedly cut short Mr. Pratap Reddy, when he tried to raise the concerns over sharing of river water.

Mr. Azad too told the Ministers that they had failed to lobby like the Telangana Congress leaders. He is understood to have remarked that even BSP leader Mayawati was pressuring the Centre to give Telangana.