HYDERABAD: Union health minister and AICC general secretary in charge of state Congress affairs Ghulam Nabi Azad has had a taste of caste politics during his two-day visit to the city.
His visit, which came close on the heels of the limited cabinet expansion, saw Kamma leaders belching fire and brimstone at the Congress for ignoring the community which always played a crucial role during elections. Guntur MP and business magnate Rayapati Sambasiva Rao met chief minister N KiranKumar Reddy on Saturday and afterwards washed the dirty linen in public.
To assuage the ruffled feelings of the Kammas, the AICC leader spent some time with Congress spokesperson Renuka Chowdhary, who also belongs to the same caste, on Sunday morning and discussed what could be done to keep the community leaders in good humour. He told her that he would relay her suggestions to the party high command.
Even as he was grappling with the Kamma dissatisfaction, Malas, a Scheduled Caste, have decided to let Azad know that they too are not happy with the goings-on in the state. Amalapuram MP GV Harsha Kumar found fault with Azad and the attitude of the Congress high command towards Malas and wanted to know why the Congress was alienating its traditional supporters.
“When P Shankar Rao was removed from the cabinet, another Mala leader should have been taken into the cabinet. But it has not been done. Even in the constitution of the Congress Coordination Committee, there is no representation to Malas but representation was given to Madigas (Damodar Rajanarsimha),” he said.
Earlier in the day, another senior Congress leader and Rajya Sabha member V Hanumanth Rao met Azad and took exception to upper caste Congress leaders’ comments on the inclusion of two Kapu leaders in the state cabinet. It was after 60 years that BCs and Kapus were getting some political importance and it was not proper for any upper-caste leader to raise objections to their growth, Rao told Azad.
The day began for Azad with Renuka inviting him to breakfast at her residence with an intention to bring to his notice the deep dissatisfaction of her community leaders. After he had breakfast with her, he lent his ears to her as she, speaking on behalf of the kamma community, explained to him why they were feeling let down.
Azad listened to her as she explained to him why Guntur MP Rayapati Sambasiva Rao and Eluru MP Kavuri Sambasiva Rao had of late been giving expression to their pent-up emotions over being ignored by the party.
Renuka is understood to have told Azad that Kamma representation in the decision-making bodies was woefully inadequate. Except Assembly speaker Nadendla Manohar and mines & geology minister Galla Aruna Kumari, no Kamma legislator had been taken into the state cabinet, she said. Interestingly, there are only two other Kammas _ Ravi Kumar and Daggubati Venakteswara Rao _ of the Congress in the House. Though Yalamachili Ravi is another Kamma legislator, he technically belongs to the Praja Rajyam.
In the central cabinet, there is only Daggubati Purandeswari, who is holding human resource development portfolio, representing the community. Though Kavuri Sambasiva Rao and Rayapati Sabasiva Rao had been expecting a berth in the central cabinet, none of them was favoured for reasons not known.
Recalling Rayapati’s comments which were laced with a heavy dose of sarcasm, Renuka is reporetd to have told Azad: ``Our community leaders’ services have always been utilised at the time of elections because we are good at mobilising financial and human resources but never remembered them when making them partners in decision-making.’’