ANDHRA PRADESH

APCC directive has aspirants in a fix

GUNTUR, FEB. 26. The Congress ticket aspirants in Guntur district are in a `catch-22' situation with the Andhra Pradesh Congress Committee (APCC) asking the District Congress Committee (DCC) to furnish names of those who did not wish to contest.

Prior to issuing application forms for ticket beginning February 28 at the DCC office here, the PCC intends to identify prominent leaders whose services could be utilised for party work. The Congress Minority Cell president, Md. Hidayat, is the only leader ready to be part of a seven-member committee for running the `mass contact' programme. If a Congress leader chooses to apply for a party ticket, he loses the chance to be part of the committee and also faces the threat of not getting a ticket. Opting out of the race means accepting lack of self-confidence and none wants to risk that. "The process of issuing and accepting filled-in forms will be completed within three days and a clear picture will emerge then," the DCC president, Ryapati Srinivas, told The Hindu.

The former CLP leader, Y. S. Rajasekhara Reddy's, visit to Guntur on Saturday to unveil the statue of Indira Gandhi at Pathipendla, about 25 km. from here, could crystallise the situation to some extent.

The DCC would practically do a post-office job and there would be no screening at this level, Dr. Srinivas said. Constitution of a Pradesh Election Committee had created a flutter in the district with Dr. Srinivas's brother and the former MP, Rayapati Sambasiva Rao, being excluded from that.

How far the committee could influence the screening of applicants remains to be seen as all the DCC office-bearers expect the applications to be sent directly to the All India Congress Committee (AICC) for the final decision as none would want to risk wrath of those weeded out.

Meanwhile, Kasu Venkatakrishna Reddy, who had earlier won twice from the Narsaraopet Parliamentary constituency, is determined to seek a ticket from the same place. The former Chief Minister and MP from Narsaraopet in the recently dissolved Lok Sabha, Nedurumalli Janardhana Reddy is tipped as the candidate from the Visakhapatnam Lok Sabha seat.

With a promise to get the Velugonda project implemented Mr. Venkatkrishna Reddy is preparing to meet Sonia Gandhi with the request.

The March 8 public meeting at Vijayawada could move things further, but the responsibility of organising the meeting has been given to Mr. Janardhana Reddy.