TAMIL NADU

Rajasekhara Reddy vows to bring Congress to power

VIJAYAWADA DEC. 7. The former Andhra Pradesh Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader, Y. S. Rajasekhara Reddy, has announced that he will take "political sanyas'' if his party fails to capture power in the coming Assembly elections.

Dr. Reddy made the announcement in response to a pointed query from a reporter who wondered if the Congress leader would take such a decision, as the party was optimistic of capturing power.

"I am fully confident that the Congress will bounce back to power, but if we fail to do so, I will take total sanyas from politics,'' Dr. Reddy vowed, even as a hushed silence descended on the Press Club during his "meet-the- press programme'' here on Sunday.

The district Congress president, Mandali Buddha Prasad, the former Minister, P. Upendra, former legislator, Jaleel Khan, and several other senior Congress leaders were present when the announcement was made.

He said the Congress was sure to come back to power, thanks to the "lopsided'' policies of the Chandrababu Naidu Government.

Dr. Reddy sought to invoke the "Indira Gandhi'' brand of economy as the only panacea for the ills plaguing the State economy.

However, he took pains to emphasise that he was not totally opposed to the ongoing reforms in the country.

The Congress leader said, "Economic reforms which do not address the problems of agriculture cannot in isolation result in higher growth rates.''

He regretted that the new architects of economic reforms were under the impression that they could take India to a higher growth trajectory by ignoring the agriculture and rural sectors.

He said the credit deposit ratio of rural and semi-urban areas had fallen in 2002 to 35 per cent from 55 per cent in 1980 and as against the mandated 18 per cent credit to agriculture, the SCBs were lending only 10 per cent to agriculture driving the farming community once again to the fold of private moneylenders.

On naxalite issue, he reiterated that the Congress, if voted to power, would hold negotiations with the People's War to end the problem and rejected the Chief Minister's criticism that the party was hand in glove with the outlawed organisation.

"By the same yardstick, should we assume that (Prime Minister) Mr. Vajpayee and (Deputy Prime Minister) Mr. Advani are hand in glove with Kashmiri militants for holding talks,'' he queried.

Defending his pet theme of providing free power supply to the farm sector, Dr. Reddy said the party would review all the power purchase agreements (PPA) signed by the TDP Government with the private parties.

By reviewing the PPAs and cutting expenditure on publicity amounting to Rs. 350 crores, it would be possible to give free power to farmers, he contended.

On the criticism that the party failed to project an acceptable leader for the post of the Chief Minister, Dr. Reddy said as a national party the Congress had its own norms to elect such a leader and the question of projecting any individual did not arise.

The Congress leader came down heavily on the TDP Government for having "miserably failed'' on all fronts and quoted the "decline'' in the State's GDP rate as revealed by the Centre for Economic Studies to justify his criticism.

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