The Congress government in the state will now have to face the inevitable - fighting the elections for the local bodies. The AP High Court issued a direction to the AP State Election Commission on Tuesday asking it to hold the elections within three months from the date of submission of a letter by the government that the reservation should not exceed 50 percent for BCs, OBCs, SCs and STs.
The Congress is now in a piquant situation with the High Court restricting reservation to 50 percent. The state government had proposed reservation up to 60.5 percent in the past.
At a time when the Congress is not sure of its electoral prospects, consumed by the fear that the outcome might not be different from the one in the recent byelections, it is unable to digest the fact that it has to scale down reservation by 10.5 percent which may not go down well with the BCs.
"If we go for elections, we will surely be dubbed as anti-BCs and if we go in for an appeal in the Supreme Court, our detractors would say that we are trying to delay holding of the elections because we are afraid of the outcome," one senior Congress leader said. He says the Congress also runs the risk of taking the blame even if an affected party, like any BC organisation, moves the Supreme Court.
"There will be criticism that we had the petition filed to avoid elections," he added.
The state government wanted elections to be held to the local bodies - Village Panchayats, Mandal Parishads and Zilla Parishads - in July last year itself but as the reservation was going beyond 50 percent the AP High Court had stayed the notification issued by the State Election Commission.
PCC president Botcha Satyanarayana reacted cautiously to the High Court order saying that the government would honour the court's order.
He said, "We will conduct the elections keeping in mind the directions of the High Court and that of the Supreme Court in 2010 (that reservation should not cross 50 percent)."
For the record, the government says it is not afraid of facing the electorate. Said finance minister Anam Ramnarayana Reddy: "From the beginning, we wanted to go in for elections to local bodies. Now that the high court has directed that reservation should be restricted to 50 percent, we will take stock of the situation after the chief minister returns from his Indiramma Baata in Kurnool district.
"However, the Congress sees some positives from holding the polls. While the outcome couldn't get worse than the recent bypoll, it would at least help separate chaff from the grain.
"In villages, it is difficult to say who is a Congress worker and who is a YSR Cong worker. Elections will bring this clarity and we would be able to know our real strength at grassroot level," a Congress leader said.
TRS, YSRC welcome verdict
The YSR Congress, still high on its bypoll gains, welcomed the High Court direction.
"We are ready for the elections," YS Vijayamma, party honorary president, said and hoped that YSR's goodwill would see the party through. The TRS is also happy about the verdict.
Said T Harish Rao, leader of the party: "We are ready to fight the elections. People are with us."