The Congress appears to be in a state of despair. With three Lok Sabha members and one former Rajya Sabha member from Telangana threatening to join the TRS, it says it cannot do anything about it.
“Even if I want to retain them, how I can do it if they are bent on leaving? If they want to leave, let them leave. No harm will befall the party,” PCC president Botcha Satyanarayana said on Tuesday.
The PCC chief let the veneer of confidence slip while speaking to mediapersons when he said he could not care less if leaders left the party. “In the past, MLAs had quit. If some more people want to quit, let them. Those who have faith in Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi will stay in the Congress,” Botcha said.
For sometime, he feigned ignorance that MPs S Rajaiah, G Vivek and M Jagannadham, and former Rajya Sabha member K Kesava Rao had set May 30 as deadline for the party to announce a decision in favour of Telangana state. He finally gave up and said he did not care if they stayed or left.
The development on the Telangana front appears to have jarred Satyanarayana, who has lined up a wide-ranging meeting of the PCC on Wednesday, to which he had invited chief minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy, to prepare party workers for the 2014 elections.
As regards CBI charges against Dharmana Prasada Rao and Sabitha Indra Reddy, he batted for them saying they were not guilty of committing any irregularity while issuing the controversial GOs. He said that they are innocent so many times that it made one doubt if their resignations will be accepted in the near term.
Asked when the resignations would be accepted, Satyanarayana trained his guns at YS Jagan Mohan Reddy and his supporters. He built an argument that though Jagan Mohan Reddy was out and out corrupt, YSRC leaders were trumpeting from the rooftops every day that he was clean. They were doing it shamelessly, he said, implying that before Jagan’s corruption, the guilt of the two ministers was small.
Asked if he was suggesting that the CBI should not touch them since their crime is small, the PCC chief said he was not implying that. “Big or small, if one commits a crime, it is punishable,” he said. “If Dharmana or Sabitha had received any quid pro quo benefit, then they are liable to be punished. They are not tainted. They are only facing charges. The court has not yet given its verdict. Even then they had resigned, which only shows the high values they have,” Botcha said.
The PCC chief even said the Congress high command too knew that they are not guilty. “These two ministers cannot be compared to former Union ministers Pawan Kumar Bansal and Ashwini Kumar. I am sure neither Dharmana nor Sabitha benefited in anyway by issuing the controversial GOs,” the PCC chief said.
Again asked when their resignations would be accepted, he said it was the prerogative of the chief minister. “He has to take several aspects into consideration, including administrative issues, before acting on the resignations. He would take a decision at an appropriate time,” Botcha said. He grew angry with mediapersons when they asked him why the resignations, pending with the chief minister for a long time, had not been accepted. “We do not go by your advice or wish. Even if some damage has been done to the party because of the delay in taking action on the resignations, we will bear it. Why do you bother about?” the PCC chief asked mediapersons.
BOTCHA PREFERS PARTY POST
Botcha said if he is asked to choose between the post of cabinet minister and PCC president, he would prefer the latter. Asked if the party high command had exempted him from the Jaipur ‘one-man, one-post’ declaration, he said he did not know. “If the party asks me to choose between the two, I would like to stay as PCC chief,” he said.