Congress faces desertions over no alliance plan in Andhra Pradesh

Published on Jan 24, 2019 09:09 PM IST

The Congress party’s decision to go it alone in Andhra Pradesh in the upcoming general elections has opened fault lines within the grand old party which faces a fresh wave of desertions.

Congress party’s decision to go it alone in Andhra Pradesh in the upcoming general elections has opened fault lines within the grand old party which faces a fresh wave of desertions.(PTI)
Congress party’s decision to go it alone in Andhra Pradesh in the upcoming general elections has opened fault lines within the grand old party which faces a fresh wave of desertions.(PTI)
Hindustan Times, Vijayawada | ByGali Nagaraja

The Congress party’s decision to go it alone in Andhra Pradesh in the upcoming general elections has opened fault lines within the grand old party which faces a fresh wave of desertions.

A day after the no-truck statement by Congress general secretary in-charge of Andhra Pradesh, Oommen Chandy, former Union minister Kotla Suryaprakash, son of former chief minister Kotla Vijayabhaskar Reddy from Rayalaseema’s Kurnool district appears setting the stage for switching over to the Telugu Desam Party (TDP).

The Kotla family has been loyal to the Congress for decades as Vijayabhaskar Reddy served as Union minister and a member of Congress Working Committee (CWC), besides being the CM of undivided Andhra Pradesh. His son Suryaprakash was instrumental in organising a rally addressed by Congress chief Rahul Gandhi, during which a promise of special category status in Kurnool in September 2018 was made.

According to information, Suryaprakash Reddy is planning to hold a meeting with his followers in his home district on Friday for consultations over his course of action.

A senior TDP leader from Kurnool district said that their party chief and Andhra Pradesh chief minister Chandrababu Naidu has cleared the decks for Reddy’s entry.

But deputy chief minister KE Krishnamurthy, who is engaged in a turf war with Kotla’s family, has expressed his strong reservations against the TDP aligning with Congress and admission of Suryaprakash Reddy as well.

A Congress spokesman said there could be more “power-starved” seniors, who might take cue from Suryaprakash Reddy in pursuit of greener pastures in the coming days.

Haunted by the demon of bifurcation which decimated the grand old party in 2014 elections, the Congress party found a dependable ally in the TDP to gain a toehold and stay relevant in the state politics after the latter broke away with NDA early in 2018.

Right from constituency in-charges to former ministers, most of the senior leaders reportedly conveyed their opinion to Oommen Chandy favouring a truck with the TDP in course of interactions for the party’s survival. But the AICC emissary explicitly made clear the high command’s stand for a solo show that raised many an eyebrow.

A senior leader who served as a minister during the Congress regime (2009-14) said the no-truck decision is well-conceived by top brass to prevent YS Jaganmohan Reddy of the Yuvajana Sramika Rytu Congress (YSRC), the common enemy for Congress and TDP, from capitalising on the unsuccessful alliance experiment as was evident in Telangana. The mahakootami (grand alliance) experiment of the Congress and TDP has ended up with 19 and 2 seats respectively in Telangana following failure of vote transfer in favour of the alliance partners.

“There is a strong apprehension of repeating a similar experience in Andhra also if the Congress ties up with TDP to the advantage of the common enemy”, a former minister said on the condition of anonymity. The TDP is also reportedly haunted by similar apprehensions that the alliance with Congress might be a more liability than an asset since Andhra people are still not able to atone it for dividing the state.

The Congress suffered a first wave of desertions after the bifurcation before the 2014 general elections. Most of its leaders preferred to jump off the sinking boat and seek asylum either in Jagan Reddy’s YSR Congress or to Naidu’s TDP.

In the recent past three former ministers from the Congress — Vatti Vasanta Kumar, C Ramachandraiah and Pasupuleti Balaraju crossed over to the YSR Congress and Jana Sena in protest against their party joining hands with the TDP against the NDA.

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