‘Congress does not exist in Andhra’
Former party leader says his problem is not with Rahul but those with him
A six-time MP, former Congress Working Committee member, head of the party’s Adivasi cell and former Tribal Affairs Minister, Kishore Chandra Deo, who quit the party earlier this month, is categorical that the Congress has no future in Andhra Pradesh in the present circumstances.
What are your reasons to quit the Congress?
It was not a spontaneous decision. I was among the very few Congress leaders who did not oppose bifurcation of the State, since the party had already taken the decision and it was in our manifesto. I had made a few suggestions on how to go about it. I don’t think these suggestions were even discussed. The manner and timing of bifurcation was not correct.
So, why now?
I waited till the very end. Those who are at the helm of affairs in Andhra Pradesh, they come from the YSR Reddy stream. After his son formed a new party, these people continued to be there. Once Oommen Chandy came from Kerala as the general secretary in charge of the State, I expected that he would restore the party and strengthen it in the State. I met Mr. Chandy and spoke to him on several instances but nothing happened. For all practical purposes, the party does not exist in Andhra. People are questioning my timing because of the upcoming election. But I have not decided to join this way or that. But if your voice is not heard in the party, your mails do not receive acknowledgement, your suggestions are not considered what is the point in remaining in such a party?
Was it because Congress president Rahul Gandhi did not meet you?
During that time, Rahul Gandhi was very busy making election tours. That is too petty a reason to leave a party that I have been in for 40 to 45 years. The basic reason for my quitting is because I did not see any intent to strengthen the party or to build it back. My problem is not with him but the people who are with him and handle the affairs of Andhra Pradesh. They led the party to total liquidation in Andhra.
How do you see the prospects of the Congress in Andhra and rest of the nation?
In Andhra, at least, I believe that Congress will get fewer votes than it got in 2014. As far as the rest of the nation is concerned, where there are regional parties, they will take care of the Narendra Modi-Amit Shah combine and wherever regional parties are not there, the Congress will win by default. I wish the Congress well.
Did you expect that party under Rahul Gandhi would change for the better?
When he became vice-president, I was there in Jaipur in January 2013. Even if he had implemented 60-70% of what he had promised in his speech, the Congress would have been in a much better position.
If your voice is not heard in the party ... what is the point in remaining there?