‘Congress does not ex­ist in Andhra’

For­mer party leader says his prob­lem is not with Rahul but those with him

The Hindu - - NEWS - Sob­hana K. Nair

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?

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