Special Correspondent

TIRUPATI: A day after the withdrawal of nominations and the exit of three rebels from the ring, the Congress, which is taking a calculated risk to win both the seats available in the district under the local bodies quota despite facing a shortage of 36 votes to touch the magic figure, is busy working out a strategy to make its dream come true.

It is aware that the task ahead is stupendous and what makes it look further complicated is the bitter bickering between its two groups -- one led by the Chief Whip N. Kirankumar Reddy and the other constituting a team of six MLAs -- Muddukrishnama Naidu, P. Ramachandra Reddy, K. Prabhakar Reddy, Kuthuhalamma, Narayanaswamy and M. Venkatramana.

The legislators are arraigned against the chief whip to put a stop to his dominance in the party proceedings in the district using his proximity with the Chief Minister.

Rivals score points

In fact rivals of Kiran scored a point over him by getting their own candidate, Jayachandra Naidu, nominated as the official candidate for the first seat.

It was only to get even with his rivals that Kiran thought of propping up the name of Reddappa Reddy as the second candidate though the party did not have enough strength to get two candidates elected. With this what otherwise looked like a cake-walk for his rivals to see their candidate, Jayachandra Naidu romped home, has complicated the scene for the party in the district.

But this in its wake has made the position of both the candidates unenviable forcing the rival groups to invariably try to poach in the TDP camp and in the bunch of `others' - mostly Independents who accounted for 24 votes. As for the Congress party's arithmetic to touch the magic figure, out of a total voters strength of 1,130 in the district, its strength is 720 in all and as such its candidate must poll 378 votes each to win. But if its total votes (720) are divided between the two, each will get only 360 and as such each will face a shortage of 18 votes to cross the winning post. This is what makes the position critical for the party, which appears to have bitten more than what it can chew.

Even assuming for a moment that it secured all the 24 votes of the `others', it will need to poach 12 votes from the close-knit TDP bunch. But given the cut-throat rivalry on one-hand with the TDP and on the other hand among two rival groups, would it be that easy for the Congress which is gambling for the second seat as its avaricious game plan to make the TDP lose even its lone seat in the district -- the home ground of Chandrababu Naidu.