Kiran downplays Jagan factor, Botcha raises Telangana issue
If chief minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy sought to play down the Jagan factor in state politics, PCC president Botcha Satyanarayana raised Telangana issue when their turn came to speak on the first day of the two-day conference of the Congress Legislature Party and Pradesh Congress Committee heads convened by Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi in New Delhi on Friday.
According to sources, Kiran explained to Rahul Gandhi that contrary to New Delhi’s perception, Jagan’s influence had waned of late and that the Congress had a good chance of winning the 2014 elections if it approached the polls with a good strategy. He said Jagan did not have any support in Telangana and was no longer a rave in the rest of the state. He referred to the Congress winning more than 60 per cent of the primary agriculture cooperative societies in the recently-held cooperative elections to substantiate his argument that the Congress was a force to reckon with.
Kiran attributed the good show to the welfare programmes he took up after he took over as the chief minister and expressed confidence that they would yield political dividends. He spoke of the one-rupee rice scheme and statutory status to fund allocation for welfare programmes for SCs and STs under the SC/ST sub-plan.
Satyanaryana, who spoke first, narrated the the impact of Telangana movement on voters and suggested to the party leadership to resolve the issue as early as possible as any further delay might dim the prospects of the party in the 2014 general election. He wanted Rahul Gandhi to pay attention to this problem since there is a vertical split in the party on regional lines.
The Congress vice-president intervened now and then when Botcha and Kiran were speaking and sought elaboration on the points they were making. The purpose of the meeting is to strengthen the state units of the party ahead of the Lok Sabha elections.
It was the second of such consultations by Gandhi after he became vice-president of the party at the Chintan Shivir held at Jaipur in January. Gandhi had earlier held freewheeling discussions with the AICC office-bearers on challenges confronting the party and the road that lay ahead.
The deliberations assumed significance as Assembly elections in nine states including Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Delhi are scheduled this year, and the Lok Sabha polls are just 15 months away.
Sources said both Botcha and Kiran made an attempt to take credit for the party’s victory in the cooperative polls as both stressed the point. Botcha gave his take on the situation and suggested measures for strengthening the party’s base at the ground level to help the party bounce back and transform itself in time for the next elections.