Hyderabad: The Congress High Command seems to be anxious to concentrate on the State affairs and fill various political appointments as soon as possible keeping in view the inevitable victory for the YSR Congress Party in Sunday’s by-election.
Obviously rattled by the victory march of the Jagan Juggernaut in Kadapa Lok Sabha and Pulivendula Assembly constituencies, the AICC leadership did not want to delay any longer the appointments of a deputy chief minister and Assembly Speaker.
Though Mr D. Srinivas has been given extension as president of the State Congress, it should not come as a surprise if the AICC appoints a new party chief in the State after the party’s debacle in the by-elections. The party’s Delhi bosses are also eager to gift some plum posts of corporation chairpersons to checkmate possible exodus to YSR Congress.
The APCC president, who is in Delhi, called on Mr Gulam Nabi Azad, AICC general secretary in charge of party affairs in the State, and had prolonged discussions ranging from the party’s performance in the by-elections to the Jagan impact on the ruling party in the coming days. The need for filling the deputy chief minister’s post and the Assembly Speaker seem to have also prominently figured during the deliberations.
According to informed sources, the Congress High Command was very serious and upset over the mishandling of the election strategy at the APCC as well as the Chief Minister’s level. The Central leaders were also irked that there was no proper coordination and planning between the State party leadership and the ministers during electioneering.
It was also pointed out by these sources that the landslide victory expected for the YSR Congress in both Kadapa Lok Sabha and Pulivendula Assembly constituencies is considered as a humiliating blow to Ms Sonia Gandhi since Mr Jagan Mohan Reddy had repeatedly threw an open challenge that the by-election is a war between “self-respect” (of YSR family) and “arrogance” (of Delhi bosses).
As if this was not enough, the rhetoric Jagan bashing day in day out during the campaigning by Congress leaders from street corner level to ministers had only helped to incense the already existing sentiments for the late YSR’s family. Instead of making efforts to explain the welfare and developmental programmes launched by the Congress, the party leaders, including ministers, vied with each other in the smear campaign against Jagan only to boomerang on the ruling party.
Thus after a self-introspection exercise, the AICC leadership seems to be anxious to go in for a damage control without further delay to prevent further erosion of the party’s image and also an exodus of leaders to the Jagan bandwagon. As part of this action plan, the Congress High Command is likely to appoint deputy chief minister and also fill the vacancy of the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly and also the Chairman of the Legislative Council before the month end.
As announced earlier, the deputy CM’s post would go to a leader from the Telangana region and belonged to Scheduled Caste. Thus the race for this important post is between the Heavy Industries Minister, Dr J. Geetha Reddy, and Higher Education Minister, Mr Damodar Rajanarsimha. And there are clear indications that the latter has better chances to grab the coveted post. The Deputy Speaker, Mr Nadendla Manohar, after his exceptional performance in conducting the budget session, in all probability might be elevated as the Speaker of the Assembly.
Informed sources also did not rule out the possibility of the High Command seriously considering a change of guard in the State after the Chief Minister, Mr Kiran Kumar Reddy, failed to live up to its expectations in the recent MLC elections from the local body constituencies and in Sunday’s by-election. There is also a possibility of appointing a new PCC president in a move to revamp the party organization, these sources disclosed. (NSS)