For leaders from India’s regional political scene, limelight and lime juice taste the sweetest in Delhi. Andhra Pradesh politicians are making a bee-line to the Capital to garner on opportunities born out of the turbulent state politics. With Delhi staging the drama over a variety of causes and issues from Andhra—like Telangana, backward classes vote bank, reservation, corrupt and tainted partymen, and divisive party infighting, Andhra leaders are catching a flight to Delhi as frequently as they would buzz across to Hyderabad’s posh Banjara hills. All you need— a safe flight; good timing; whales of water cannons firing free over your protests; a fleet of TV broadcast vans and refreshments for all the sweat.
Who would sense it better than BJP president G Krishan Reddy? Reddy recently did a Jantar Mantar by gurgling down a glassful of lime juice to mark the end of the three day ‘Telangana Poru Deeksha’ before a swarm of media persons from across the country, from the hands of, none other than senior leader LK Advani. Reddy raised his tirade against Sonia Gandhi. “Sonia Gandhi should take responsibility for the deaths of 850 Telangana youths who committed suicide because her party had failed to deliver on its promise,” he said.
It gave the BJP feet to compete with TRS and CPI on the Telangana turf.
Reddy ignited a chain reaction. His act made other leaders catch a plane to Delhi. Reddy ensured Andhra BJP unit a smooth sailing with support from Telangana Joint Action Committee chairman M Kodandaram who, to justify his own hurried sprint to Delhi the same week, vowed a mass mobilisation of people from all sections from Telangana and even warned Ghulam Nabi Azad, Congress’ firefighter in Andhra with “dire consequences” if his party failed to give a clear word on the T issue by September 30. Soon after meeting Azad, Kodandaram said, “We would intensify the agitation. The Centre will have to take the responsibility for the consequences after the Telangana March scheduled for September 30 for which there would be mass mobilisation from all sections of people in the region.”
Azad promised a speedy action from the Congress high command on TJAC’s implorations. Kodandaram’s camping in Delhi and support to Reddy’s fast kept the Congress on its feet and hands full. Back in Andhra, Palvai Govardhan Reddy threatened he would not walk in public if the government failed to help form Telangana. The old chap was calmed down by PCC chief Botcha Satayanarayana who pressed into action immediately by raising the issue with the high command. Botcha’s me time—a trip to Delhi.
Azad, Vayalar Ravi and Sushil Kumar Shinde played hosts to several leaders who, in an effort to keep pace with leaders from BJP and TJAC doubled up to Delhi in swarms. TRS chief K Chandrashekhar Rao was in Delhi to meet the Congress high command on the pretext of attending the Parliament. Leaders from the Left are joining the band wagon. CPI state secretary K Narayana led a delegation to Manmohan Singh last week and sought his intervention on Telangana. After submitting the memorandum, the CPI leader said, “I fail to understand how the Singh could remain unmoved when the movement for Telangana is fierce.”
Telangana is not the only issue that brings Andhra leaders running to Delhi. More than often it’s a vault for votes. TDP leader Naidu flew to the Capital to meet Samajwadi Party leader Mulayam Singh Yadav in a hope to work him in the future. Not only that, he met JD(U) leader Sharad Yadav, Deve Gowda, CPI’s AB Bardhan and S Sudhakaran Reddy. According to TDP’s Nama Nageswara Rao, Mulayam said he would be too happy to be friends with Naidu and continue to work with the Andhra bigwig. With Mulayam pitching one-third reservation for backward classes, promising seats in legislative bodies and a Union ministry for BC welfare, Naidu has harmonically announced 100 TDP tickets for backward classes in his state. He said, “The government has no effective argument. The court decreed that the reservations for SC ST and Backward classes should not exceed 50 per cent. The government will have to fall back by cutting the reservations by 10.5 per cent.” Interestingly, Naidu boarded the Delhi flight on the same day as the TRS chief left for the national capital, his agenda was different from Rao. Different planes, different agendas, same destination. We wonder if Naidu and Rao got the chance to wave at each other in the skies.
With the Congress having to face the inevitable—the forthcoming local bodies elections in Andhra which puts it in a very precarious position—it can’t support or oppose the proposed 50 per cent reservation—the traffic to Delhi is bound to increase.
Botches and battles
Then, some leaders have to shuttle between Hyderabad and Delhi to salvage a crumbling state party unit. It must be noticed that PCC chief Botcha Satayanarayana was in Delhi last month to nudge a napping high command. He met the Congress central leadership on roads and buildings tainted minister Dharmana Prasada Rao’s resignation. Rao was the fifth accused in the Vanpic land allotment case. Botcha, after consultations with CM N Kiran Kumar Reddy was fighting Dharman’s case for the sake of the state unit, which has seen YSR’s resounding victory in the bypolls. Botcha is a man whose trips to Delhi will only increase. He is trying to bridge the gap between Kiran Kumar Reddy and Union Petroleum Minister Jaipal Reddy. With the state unit front and venue rusting, Botcha had to ferry his own fight with Kiran Reddy to Delhi.
Following the confusion, Ministers K Jana Reddy, D Sridhar Babu and Kanna Lakshminarayana, former ministers JC Diwakar Reddy and P Shankar Rao travelled to Delhi. Though Kiran Reddy has given a break to his Delhi Yatras for now, Botcha has flown to Delhi twice to meet his party bosses. Deputy Chief Minister Damodara Rajanarasimha visited Delhi last week to apprise the party of the political developments in the state. During his two-day Delhi tour, Rajanarasimha held hectic parleys with the Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde and AICC Andhra Pradesh affairs in charge Ghulam Nabi Azad. Delhi’s Andhra Bhawan canteen offers the most sumptuous meals. Going by the crowd, the cooks may have to work over-time.