Rahul seeks Naidu help to solve tickets chaos
Allies CPI and Telangana Jana Samithi rebelled against Congress.
Congress president Rahul Gandhi rushed his emissary, AICC general secretary Ashok Gehlot, to Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister and TDP president Chandrababu Naidu to seek his support to solve the chaotic situation in the allotment of tickets in the Telangana Assembly elections. The chaos is caused by rebellion from the allies, the CPI and Telangana Jana Samithi (TJS).
Congress wanted to release its first list of candidates by 9 November, but now is not in a position to do it even by Sunday, even as filing of nominations begins on Monday. The party has not yet finalised the quota of seats to be given to the allies, whereas ruling TRS and BJP have almost declared their candidates and swung into the campaign mode.
The Congress election committee held its meeting at the residence of Sonia Gandhi on 8 November, but couldn’t come to a conclusion due to differences among the allies on the number of seats to be contested by each of them, as well as internal dissidence from various pressure groups like OBCs etc.
Gehlot, who arrived at Vijayawada on Saturday afternoon, called on CM Naidu at his official residence in Amaravati in the evening and held talks to contain discontent among the allies, especially the CPI and TJS in Telangana. Gehlot, who came as the emissary of Rahul Gandhi, also showed Naidu the list of Congress candidates for Telangana, according to Congress sources.
In Telangana, Congress has formed a Maha Kutami (Grand Alliance), including TDP, TJS and CPI, to take on the ruling TRS. After much bargaining, of the total 119 Assembly seats, Congress offered 14 to TDP, eight to TJS and three to CPI, keeping the remaining 94 for itself. However, the CPI, which sought at least eight seats, has an- nounced candidates for five seats and threatened to walk out of the alliance.
Similarly, the Prof Kodandaram-led TJS insisted on at least 14 seats and made it clear that nothing short of that number would be acceptable to it. TDP is the only ally, which has not created any trouble to the Congress and is content with the 14 offered to it. Meanwhile, two more parties—Indian Muslim League and Telanana Inti Party—too came forward to join the alliance and sought one seat each.
This has created a piquant situation for the Congress leadership. On the one hand, Rahul Gandhi is keen on tak- ing as many allies as possible into the alliance, and on the other hand, there are no seats to be allotted to any allies due to heavy competition from within the party to all the available seats. AICCin-charge R.C. Khuntia has thrown up his hands to adjust the competing demands from allies and own party leaders.
TJS chief Kodandaram insisted and got the Jangaon Assembly seat, triggering revolt by former Telangana Congress Committee president Ponnala Lakshmaiah, a senior OBC leader. Threetime former MLA from Jangoan, Lakshmaiah has been cultivating the constituency for the last four years and has readied his cadre to contest this time too.
Allotment of this seat to Prof Kodandaram, a Reddy by caste, has angered Lakshmaiah who issued a statement saying that the move would hurt the sentiments of OBCs who had already been neglected by Congress. Lakshmaiah’s sudden defi- ance has caused panic among Congress circles and the high command is understood to have sought the help of the AP CM to solve the difficulty.
Gehlot is believed to have urged Naidu to use his good offices to persuade Kodandaram to shift to some other seat, leaving Jangon to Lakshmaiah. However, TJS spokesman Yogeeswar Reddy told this newspaper on Saturday that Kodandaram would not give up the Jangoan seat. “Already, we have got fewer seats and we won’t allow further arm twisting by Congress,” the TJS spokesman said.
Besides Jangoan, there are a dozen other seats where warring Congress groups are insisting on getting tickets to their nominees, thus putting pressure on the high command. It is interesting that the Congress is seeking mediation by Naidu to pacify some of its own leaders. If Gehlot’s mission to Naidu yields results, Congress hopes to release its first list of 74 candidates by Monday. Buoyed by the results of the Karnataka by-elections, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister and TDP president N. Chandrababu Naidu has intensified his efforts to mobilise the Opposition parties of the southern states for a rally of a national level non-BJP front, to be held in Kolkata in January, ahead of the general elections to the Lok Sabha.
Naidu is currently on a mission to unify all nonNDA parties at the national level under the aegis of the Congress. A rally is being planned in the middle of January in Kolkata where TMC supremo and Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee would kick- start the Lok Sabha election campaign, according to sources in the TDP.
Naidu is contemplating to hold another rally in Delhi, if possible by the end of December, as a curtain-raiser to the Kolkata rally, sources said. NCP leader Sharad Pawar and Congress president Rahul Gandhi had agreed to attend a rally in Delhi.
Naidu on Friday met DMK president M.K. Stalin and other party leaders in Chennai and held discussions with them on the modalities for raising a non-BJP front at the national level. DMK MP Kanimozhi and other leaders were present. Naidu was accompanied by his ministers Yanamala Ramakrishnudu, N. Anand Babu, MPs K. Ravindra Kumar, C.M. Ramesh and AP representative in Delhi K. Rammohan Rao.
Naidu briefed Stalin about his talks with JDS leaders H.D. Deve Gowda (former Prime Minister) and Kumaraswamy (Karnataka CM)
Nihangs or Sikh warriors display their skills during a religious procession to mark the Bandi Chhor Divas in Amritsar on Thursday. Sikhs celebrate the occasion a day after Diwali to mark the return of their sixth Guru, Guru Hargobind, who was freed from imprisonment from Gwalior fort by Mughal emperor Jahangir in 1619.