After months of hostility that threatened to crack the Andhra Pradesh Congress, chief minister Kiran Kumar Reddy and PCC chief Botcha Satyanarayana declared a ceasefire on Thursday.
The agreement came after a meeting with state in-charge Ghulam Nabi Azad, who warned the two as well as deputy chief minister D Rajanarasimha that their differences would only work against the party. Eighteen MLA seats and one Lok Sabha seat in the state would go to polls in June.
Reports, however, suggested that the compromise was reached after the Wednesday-night transfer of Srinivasa Reddy, an IPS officer with the Anti Corruption Bureau who was on hot pursuit of the liquor mafia in the state. Azad had held his first round of talks on Wednesday evening.
The crisis began in February, with the ACB probing the alleged nexus between politicians, excise officials and liquor syndicates. Many of the state ministers, including road transport minister Satyanarayana, are linked with liquor trade.
Satyanarayana’s family owns dozens of liquor shops in north-costal Andhra Pradesh.
The PCC chief’s camp painted the ACB raids as a ploy by Reddy to settle political scores and keep Satyanarayana — who is said to be eyeing the CM’s post — under control. Even deputy chief minister Rajanarasimha is not on good terms with Reddy.
“There are rumours and news reports suggesting a rift between the chief minister and me. But we are here only to discuss the strategies to strengthen the party in the state,” Satyanarayana said after the meeting.
Speaking on the elections, he said, “As the PCC chief, I sign the B forms. But the results would have to be a collective responsibility.”