The two-day conclave of Congress leaders of Andhra Pradesh on January 4-5 at Hyderabad is more than just a review of the working of the party unit and the state government as YS Rajashekhara Reddy completes two and half years in office. The brainstorming session will assess the impact of their performance on the likely prospects of the party in the 2009 Lok Sabha polls.
According to Digvijay Singh, All India Congress Committee general secretary in charge of Andhra Pradesh, 300-odd state leaders -- including former CMs, former and present MPs, legislators and state office bearers -- will review the performance of the state government and work out strategies for the 2009 Lok Sabha polls.
Andhra Pradesh is a key state for the Congress and had helped the party form a government at the Centre by winning 29 of the 42 parliamentary seats in 2004. In the state elections, that were held along with the Lok Sabha polls, the party had won a two-third majority in the 294-member Assembly.
The need for a mid-term review is considered significant as Andhra is the only major Congress-ruled state that the party can flaunt as a model. In Maharashtra, it is in a coalition with the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP). Between them, these two states account for 90 Lok Sabha seats, with the Congress alone winning 50 of these.
Besides Andhra and Maharashtra, the party has its own chief ministers in 14 other states all of which are small in size. They include Punjab, Uttaranchal, Manipur (where elections will be held in February), Assam, Arunachal, Delhi, Goa, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Punjab, Puducherry, Sikkim and Jammu and Kashmir (where it is in a coalition with the Peoples' Democratic Party). Together these states add up to 70 Lok Sabha seats. It has very little presence in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal and Tamil Nadu, which contribute 221 seats to the Lok Sabha.
The mid-term review comes at a time when the Reddy government has hit the headlines for wrong reasons, including the controversy over the land scandal allegedly involving the chief minister and the party's abject defeat in the Karinnagar Lok Sabha byelections.
Though the Congress stand is that a Second State Reorganisation Commission should be set up to go into the issue of demand of separate states, the brain-storming session will also have to work out its response to the TRS' demand for Telangana.
The conclave will also address the grievances of party workers about the style of functioning of the chief minister and other ministers, including their alleged lack of accessibility.
But certain steps taken by the state government have come in for praise. Reddy's handling of farmers' suicides and his initiative in extending the irrigation network in the state was appreciated by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at the Congress Chief Ministers' conclave in Nainital in September 2006.