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Renuka Chowdhury stirs hornet's nest in AP

Firebrand leader Chowdhury has stirred a hornet's nest in Andhra Pradesh by declaring she would be CM if Cong. came to power.
PTI | By Indo-Asian News Service, Hyderabad
PUBLISHED ON APR 26, 2004 02:25 PM IST

Firebrand leader Renuka Chowdhury has stirred a hornet's nest in Andhra Pradesh by declaring she would be chief minister if the Congress came to power - but the party immediately clarified its legislators would decide the issue.

"We have democracy in our party. The MLAs of the state will elect their leader," Congress general secretary Ghulam Nabi Azad told reporters here Saturday when queried about Chowdhury's statement, made earlier in the day.

Azad is in-charge of the Congress campaign in Andhra Pradesh, where the second round of parliamentary and assembly polls will be held Monday.

Opinion polls have called a close election in Andhra Pradesh, with some hinting the Congress could wrest power from the Telugu Desam Party.

He was confident that his party would get 225 seats in the 294-member assembly.

Azad pointed out that in the 16 states where the Congress had formed governments after assembly elections in recent years, no leader had been projected as the chief ministerial candidate.

Chowdhury, who is contesting the Lok Sabha elections from Khammam constituency, was quoted as saying she wanted to become chief minister if the Congress came to power and that she did not want this from the "women's quota".

Meanwhile, state Congress chief D. Srinivas also made it clear he was not in the race for the chief minister's post. Media reports quoted him as saying he could become chief minister if the people wanted.

Admitting that mistakes had been made in the past, he said this time the party would have one chief minister for full five-year term if it came to power.

When it was in power between 1989 and 1994, the Congress had three chief ministers.

Though the Congress is not projecting any leader as chief minister, star campaigner Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy is the front-runner.

--Indo-Asian News Service

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