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Special Status Issue May Enable Congress Revival In AP

The Special Category Status issue seems to be coming in handy for the Congress as its tries to resurrect itself in Andhra Pradesh.
Hyderabad | 6th June 2017
The Special Category Status (SCS) issue seems to be coming in handy for the Congress as its tries to resurrect itself in Andhra Pradesh.

The Congress, which led the earlier UPA government at the Centre, had divided the united Telugu state into Telangana and Andhra Pradesh to garner votes at least in Telangana and return to power in the 2014 elections (it had already written off the Andhra region given Jagan's influence there). To its utter dismay, the party was nearly completely washed out in Telangana, too.

After being decimated in the Seemandhra region (now Andhra Pradesh) in the same elections, the party has been lying low there, while the YSR Congress Party, the main Opposition, has been taking the ruling Telugu Desam head on on various issues concerning the people and the state.

The YSR Congress Party has from the beginning been spearheading the cause for Special Category Status for the state as was promised by the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in Parliament during the passage of the AP Reorganization Bill. Jaganmohan Reddy launched various agitation programmes including dharnas, rallies and bandhs demanding SCS, and created a logjam in the state Assembly on the issue several times.

However, the party which has so fiercely spearheaded the cause for SCS has suddenly become completely silent. This sudden change of heart especially after Jagan's meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently has led to many tongues wagging. Reddy even extended his unstinted support to the NDA for the upcoming Presidential elections after that meeting. Clearly there is something more to it all than meets the eye.

Given that CM Chandrababu Naidu and the TDP have refrained from pushing for SCS for a pretty long time now, this sudden silence on the part of the YSRCP is turning a silver lining in the dark clouds for the Congress which has for long been searching for a potent drug for revival in the state. Without losing any time, the AP Congress organized a massive public meeting at Guntur on June 4 addressed by AICC Vice-President Rahul Gandhi. The meeting was a big success with Gandhi and leaders of other anti-BJP parties like Akhilesh Yadav, Sharad Yadav, A Raja and others assailing the BJP-TDP combine on the issue of SCS.

Giving further boost to the Congress plan to take on the TDP, film actor and founder President of Jana Sena Party Pawan Kalyan, too, extended full support to the Congress in the movement for achieving SCS. Pawan Kalyan, who has a huge fan following in the state, especially among the youth, had himself taken up the cause for SCS much earlier, and even organized a few public rallies for that. The film star who had supported the TDP-BJP alliance in the state during the 2014 elections and was undoubtedly helpful in the TDP coming to power, was himself peeved with the delay in the Centre conceding the demand for SCS. That led to him both criticising the BJP and TDP, and hobnobbing with Jagan, leading to speculations about a possible tie-up between Jana Sena and YSRCP in the 2019 elections. But now with Jagan falling silent, too, Kalyan is veering towards the Congress.

Even the people of the state, especially the youth, are feeling let down by Jagan on the issue of SCS. This in a way made them attend Gandhi's meeting in large numbers, resulting in a much-needed morale-booster for the Congress.

Also, the Gandhi scion lambasting Jagan for his silence on the SCS issue and the latter refraining from reacting was something that was not expected, disillusioning the people of the state further, and further boosting the stock of the AP Congress.

All of these have come as a blessing in disguise for the AP Congress, which is now gearing up to take on the TDP and the BJP in the 2019 elections with renewed vigour.

The central leadership of the Congress seemed to be employing two different strategies for the party's revival in the two Telugu states, as seen from Rahul Gandhi's public meetings at Guntur and earlier at Sangareddy. While he used the SCS card to woo the masses in Andhra Pradesh, he tried to win over the farmers in Telangana by blaming the "family rule" in the state for their misery. Whether or not Gandhi's visits to Guntur and Sangareddy will help the Congress come back to power in the two states, they have definitely helped in bringing together all the factions in Telangana onto one platform and in awakening the slumbering and sloppy Congress leaders in Andhra Pradesh.
filed in:  Andhra Pradesh, Congress, Telangana Congress, Seemandhra Congress, Rahul Gandhi, Andhra Pradesh Special Status, YSR Congress Party, Y S Jaganmohan Reddy, Pawan Kalyan, BJP, TDP, Telangana
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