HYDERABAD: The message that AICC general secretary Ghulam Nabi Azad had for chief minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy, PCC president Botcha Satyanarayana, Rajya Sabha member Chiranjeevi was crisp and clear: You have to ensure the victory of Congress nominees in the byelections for one Lok Sabha and 18 Assembly seats.
The AICC leader made his point clear to the state leaders at the third coordination committee meeting held under his chairmanship at the chief minister’s camp office here Sunday. The meeting, held after a gap of nearly three months, was attended by all the eight members and lasted about two hours.
The meeting focused mainly on the byelections and the strategy to ensure victory of Congress nominees who seem to be down and out in the face of YS Jagan Mohan Reddy stealing a march over them in the campaign. The AICC general secretary wanted the leaders to ensure that the electorate was primed fully with details of welfare schemes taken up by the government. He wanted booth-wise planning by appointing workers and entrusting them with the task.
According to highly placed sources, Azad told them that party president Sonia Gandhi was taking the byelections very seriously. Sonia was willing to forgive them for their disastrous performance in the recent byelections for seven Assembly seats but not the next clutch of elections, he warned them. Apart form the top leaders of the party, ministers from respective districts too would be held responsible for any reverses in the byelections, he told them.
The chief minister and the PCC president explained to Azad the progress made in identifying candidates and the chosen candidates’ reluctance to contest.
A few members urged Azad to keep in mind caste composition of the electorate before finalising candidates.
As a majority of Reddys are no longer with Congress, the thinking at the meeting was that BCs and minorities should be preferred as candidates where they are numerically strong - Tirupati or Kadapa where two of the three constituencies are in general category.
Azad told the CM and the PCC chief to bring the list to Delhi on Monday after going through it again keeping in mind the caste factor. Kiran Kumar is leaving for Delhi on Monday.