Political twists in Telugu states

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Andhra Pradesh is going to witness some interesting politicking towards the end of this year. Now that friends in AP have turned into foes, a lot of brainstorming is being indulged in by the think-tank of the saffron party on ways to keep the TDP out of power.

One of the strategies is to play mind-game, defame the TDP so that the main opposition YSRCP gets political advantage and, if it comes to power, then there can be post poll alliance. Well this is not a revelation. Everyone in AP knows about it. But the thinking among the BJP leadership is to try and win over the people of Andhra, a couple of months ahead of the notification for elections is issued.

The TDP has been alleging that the BJP had cheated the people of Andhra Pradesh by failing to fulfil the assurances listed in the AP State Reorganisation Act 2014. The failure to accord Special Status Category and sanction Kadapa steel plant and railway zone has also become an emotive issue.

The TDP has been going to town saying that the Prime Minister Narendra Modi had promised Special Status at the footsteps of Lord Venkateswara but has gone back on it. Though the BJP leaders like state president Kanna Lakshminarayana and other leaders have been trying to counter this, they have not been very successful.

It is being said by political analysts that since Modi and Amit Shah will have to take the entire responsibility of bringing the party back to power at Centre, there is every possibility that Modi may visit Tirupati a few months before the elections are announced and announce granting of Special Status.

It is also being speculated that before that may be in the winter session of Parliament, a bill incorporating SCS in the Act would be passed. Similarly, the Centre would also announce the railway zone. The categorical statement made by the Visakhapatnam BJP MP Haribabu that the railway zone will be a reality during his tenure is being seen as a pointer towards this game plan.

But it remains to be seen how the people of the state will receive it, and which party TDP or YSRCP would get the credit for such a development. The BJP, perhaps, feels that this move would help the YSRCP, it will result in wresting power from the TDP. Whatever the scenario may be, one thing is certain the Congress will have to continue to be a major loser.

In Telangana, the AICC made an attempt to mollify some of the ruffled feathers by inducting Sampath Kumar as general secretary. But the same day Telangana Congress suffered a setback as the city leader Danam Nagender resigned from the party and is all set to join the TRS.

The Telangana Pradesh Congress Committee (TPCC) which till recently appeared to be gaining ground politically has suddenly hit a road block somewhere. The party which was seen to be gearing up to challenge the TRS is now like a Titanic Ship which has just hit an ice berg.

Suddenly, internal dissensions have become the hall-mark of the Congress party. Seniors may explain that in Congress it is common since there is more of “Internal Democracy” within the party. But what matters at this crucial moment is ground reality. The Centre appears to have decided to hold simultaneous polls to state Assemblies and Parliament towards the end of December.

A clear indication to the effect seems to have been given to the rank and file of BJP as well as top leadership of all political parties. The Prime Minister himself asked all the Chief Ministers to discuss and debate this issue at the NITI Aayog meeting held in New Delhi recently.

The Congress party which was decimated in 2014 took almost four years to get stabilised and move forward in Telangana, while it continues to limp in Andhra Pradesh and may not get more than 2 per cent of vote share.

The only difference between Telangana Congress Committee and APCC is that here despite initial hiccups and hurdles, the TPCC president N Uttam Kumar Reddy at one stage appeared to have succeeded in winning the confidence of not only the AICC bosses including the party president Rahul Gandhi but also the state leaders. In Andhra Pradesh, the APCC president has failed to achieve this.

But then politics is a dynamic situation. The Congress party in TS seems to be again moving from stability to instability. The demand for replacement of top three leaders who are supposed to steer the party towards a better performance and ensure that it emerges as a major force to be reckoned with in 2019 elections are now in the firing range of state leaders.

The lateral entries like A Revanth Reddy and Nagam Janardhan Reddy are feeling lost and their hopes seem to have been dashed as the opposition from other Congress leaders does not seem to be subside.

Amidst this scenario comes the latest blow to the party, in the exit of Danam Nagender. In fact, Danam has been unhappy with successive TPCC presidents for ignoring him ever since the state of Telangana was formed. He almost went into hibernation and it took some time for Uttam Kumar Reddy to cajole him and convince him to play an active role in party affairs.

He was given the post of president of Greater Hyderabad Congress Committee. Uttam had himself gone to Danam’s house and held talks with him and since then Danam had been active once again in party activities. Recently, Danam went to Uttam’s house and wished him on his birthday and it was felt that the dark clouds had blown over. But in a minor reshuffle, the party replaced him with former MP Anjan Kumar Yadav.

The appointment of Anjan Kumar Yadav, along with 12 other DCC Presidents, was announced by the Congress president Rahul Gandhi recently. This seems to have upset Danam and he once again started keeping away from party activities.

On the other hand, Komati Reddy Venkat Reddy, who was expelled along with Sampath Kumar from the Assembly, is miffed with the state leadership, particularly Uttam and Jana Reddy, as he feels that the party had failed to effectively rally behind them and ensure that their membership was restored. Inducting Sampath Kumar into AICC might have come as a blessing for Uttam but still he has many problems to grapple with.

It is being rumoured that A Revanth Reddy who left TDP and joined Congress is also sulking. When he joined the Congress, it was speculated that he would be the face of TPCC as he was considered to be a match to KCR in terms of the language and rhetoric. But this experiment too seems to have failed. He now seems to have been sidelined. Then came the decision of the party to admit Nagam Janardhan Reddy.

Those who were opposed to him like D K Aruna wondered what the definition of strong leader was. One cannot be strong by his physical appearance, she commented. Opposition also came from Damodar Reddy, who had earlier unsuccessfully contested against Nagam Janardhan Reddy as Congress Party candidate when Janardhan Reddy was in the TDP during 1999, 2004 and 2009 Assembly polls.

This was followed by a sudden air dash of some TPCC leaders recently to Delhi. Though Kunthia wanted everyone to believe that they had gone to New Delhi to meet Rahul Gandhi, wish him a Happy Birthday and taste a piece of cake, it is said that these leaders complained to Ashok Gehlot against the style of functioning of Uttam. All these developments would come as a blessing for the TRS.