The once powerful Andhra Pradesh Congress Committee (APCC) chief Botcha Satyanarayana is a nervous man.
Political circles are abuzz with speculations on a change in party leadership in the state.
Adding to Bocha’s insecurity is the stand taken by AICC general secretary and state-in-charge Union Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad: the high command is not in a hurry for a change of leadership, but hasn’t ruled one out either.
The capital has been on the party’s frequent flyer programme, with all Congress heavweights from the state from Botcha to Chief Minister Kiran Kumar Reddy making a beeline to pray at the party’s high temple for politial salvation.
The latest is by the influential senior Congress leader D Srinivas, sparking further insecurity on speculations of a change at the top in both the party and the government. Srinivas later refused to divulge any details about his meeting with Azad.
The Congress high command’s persistent refusal to grant permission to Botcha to constitute committees of his choice for the APCC though he has completed one-and-half year as APCC chief rankles.
AICC president Sonia Gandhi’s has been reluctant to give an audience to him during his recent five-day Delhi visit.
An MP from the Telangana region, who returned from Delhi recently, said that the high command was unhappy with his functioning.
According to him, the AICC top brass may take a final call on the issue of change of guard in the state after the monsoon session of the Parliament.
Botcha on returning from Delhi has turned philosophical. “I will have to work under the party high command regardless of whether I will continue as president or not,” he said last week.
He is suddenly swamped by feelings of guilt and remorse. He told his confidants: “If my future and that of the chief minister is uncertain, it is because we complained against each other to the party leadership.”
Botcha has stopped going to the state party head quarter Gandhi Bhavan regularly. Lending further credence to the reports on a complete overhaul in the state Congress, Botcha said in Vizianagaram, his native district that he might get a position in the AICC.
If at all the AICC top brass wants to replace the backward class leader, the party bosses will have to zero in on leaders from weaker sections. The Congress has been wooing that section assiduously everywhere.
According to a Telangana leader close to the chief minister, Botcha’s replacement will be from the same community, Kapu, to which the APCC chief belongs.
He said the names of Union Minister of State for Defence M M Pallam Raju, Agriculture Minister Kanna Lakshminarayana and former APCC president D Srinivas (all from Kapu caste) are being floated.
A senior leader from Seemandhra felt that Botcha’s intransigence towards the chief minister seems to have gone down badly with the powers that be.
“Our high command wants a leader, who can unite all leaders in the party. But Botcha has been fighting Kiran right from day one. This quarrelsome nature of his has incurred the wrath of the high command,” he said.
There is an opinion among the chief minister’s followers that after becoming APCC chief, Botcha tried to utilise every opportunity to corner Kiran publicly.
Botcha’s public apology to the people on the ‘power crisis’ and his recent remarks that he would be happy if Chiranjeevi was made chief minister are being cited as examples.
By apologising for the power crisis in the state, he was seen as trying to cut Kiran down to size by saying that there was nothing wrong with Chiranjeevi as the chief minister.
Reddy has been leaning on his meddlesome rival after revelations of Botcha’s proxy liquor interest came to light.
Another close aide of Kiran Reddy, felt that as there was strong opinion among Congress leaders that a Scheduled Caste leader should be the APCC boss, deputy speaker Mallu Batti Vikramarka and Amalapuram MP G V Harsha Kumar are also possible contenders.