Rahul seeks Naidu help to solve tick­ets chaos

Al­lies CPI and Te­lan­gana Jana Samithi re­belled against Con­gress.

The Sunday Guardian - - Nation -

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)

REUTERS

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.

Rahul Gandhi

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