On Thursday, Kavuri Sambasiva Rao, textiles minister in the Manmohan Singh cabinet, joined the BJP in presence of Narendra Modi at the BJP-TDP rally at Bhimavaram in coastal Andhra. Rao is not contesting the elections though.
Another Union minister D Purandeswari joined the saffron party earlier and is contesting on the party ticket from Rajampet Lok Sabha seat in Rayalaseema. She also shared the dais with Modi at his Madanapalli rally earlier in the day.
With no hope of winning on a Congress ticket in Seemandhra, where people blame it for creating Telangana, 10 of its sitting MPs including these two central ministers are either sitting out or contesting the polls on tickets from rival parties.
Of the 25 parliamentary seats in Seemandhra, the Congress had won 21 in the 2009 general elections. Eight, including Rao and Purandeswari, became ministers. The other six — Kishore Chandra Deo, MM Pallam Raju, A Sai Pratap, Kotla Suryaprakash Reddy, Panabaka Lakshmi and Killi Kriparani — have stayed back to contest on Congress tickets but are not sure of victory.
“None of the sitting Congress MPs will win in Seemandhra,” said Undavalli Arunkumar, MP from Rajahmundry, who left the Congress to join former chief minister Kiran Reddy’s Jai Samaikhyandhra Party but is not contesting the elections. Despite the negative feedback, the Congress hopes to win a couple of seats where TDP and Jaganmohan Reddy’s YSR Congress put up weak candidates.
“Kurnool TDP candidate BT Naidu is not popular so the contest is likely to be between Congress’ Kotla and YSR Congress candidate Butta Renuka. If YSR Congress does not rev up its campaign in the next five days, Kotla may win,” said Giri Srikanth, a Kurnool-based political commentator.
The state ministers too are wary of representing Congress in the elections. Of the 21 Seemandhra ministers in Kiran Reddy’s cabinet, 14 are either keeping out or contesting the assembly elections as candidates of other parties. Six of them are candidates of Telugu Desam Party and one of YSR Congress. Kiran Reddy is campaigning for his Jai Samaikhyandhra Party but is not contesting.
“Congress is not in a very bad shape but only a miracle can rescue us,” said a former minister who stayed back in the Congress but opted to sit out.