Political expediencies compel the Congress to find a viable partner in both states for survival in the 2019 elections.

Dinner diplomacy Sonia tries to float broad front but no takers on Telugu soilFile photo
news Politics Wednesday, March 14, 2018 - 13:51

Sonia Gandhi, the former president of the Congress, hosted a dinner for leaders from likeminded Opposition parties at her residence at 10 Janpath in Delhi on Tuesday night with an idea to float a broad front against the NDA government. Interestingly, the two Telugu states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana went unrepresented in the high-profile banquet.

The dinner diplomacy did not work on the “Telugu Gadda” for different reasons.

The ruling Telangana Rastra Samithi (TRS) cannot be entertained with such bonhomie for the obvious reason that the Congress is the principal opposition fighting the KCR government in Telangana. Sonia cannot be genial with the TRS in Delhi while her party leaders are feeling the heat of its excess in the state.

Noticeably, KCR is training his guns on Prime Minister Narendra Modi with aggressive postures by championing a third front against both the BJP and the Congress. In addition, the TRS is encouraging defections from the Congress and is out to decimate it by unleashing a reign of terror.

In the eyes of the Congress, KCR is unreliable. The shrewd politico conveniently sailed with the Congress and ditched it immediately after he achieved separate statehood for Telangana in 2014 during the previous UPA regime.

In Andhra Pradesh, both the Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu and leader of Opposition YS Jaganmohan Reddy did not receive the dinner invite. Members of the TDP parliamentary party had stated that they would not join the dinner party. A senior Congress functionary told TNM that the TDP was not invited since it is still a part of the NDA.

“We found a common ground with the TDP on the special category status in the Parliament and put up a joint fight on the floor of the House. Our party reaching out to TDP may not be ruled out once it severs its ties with the BJP,” the source explained.

Past bitterness continues to haunt both Jagan of YSR Congress and Sonia. After all, Jagan was jailed after being implicated in cases relating to ill-gotten wealth during the Congress regime. He is still finding it difficult to erase the tag of an “economic offender” which is used by the TDP to taunt him day in and day out.  Still stalked by the ED cases, Jagan seems looking for a safe shelter to take a breather. A senior leader from the YSRC said they are averse to being a party to create a front against the NDA at this point of time.

With this background, Sonia’s dinner plans to look for new allies with formidable strength were unlikely to hold water in the two states. Given the invitation extended to the Left parties, Congress might have found some of them on board in Telangana. The CPI is already working with the Congress against the ‘despotic’ rule of the TRS. The CPI-M, however, floated a separate forum named the Bahujana Left Front, maintaining equidistance from both the Congress and the TRS.

Srinivasa Rao, CPI Telangana state secretariat member, emphasised the need for all the Left and secular parties to join hands to fight against the resurgence of right-wing politics led by the BJP.

“As Left parties, our strength is limited with which we cannot stall the onward march of the BJP without the Congress,” he asserted.

The CPI-M is bound by its official policy, articulated by its former general secretary Prakash Kharat at the recent central committee meeting, against having any truck with the Congress.

Andhra Pradesh seemingly offers some hope for at least post-poll tie-up between the Congress and the TDP depending on the former’s ability to form the government at the Centre. Because all doors for the TDP to continue friendly relations with the BJP are getting closed. TDP’s Naidu too cannot go solo in national politics after his relations with the BJP turned bitter.

Unlike in Telangana, the terrain for the Congress in Andhra Pradesh is rough and hostile. Andhra people are nursing anger against the Congress for presiding over the state bifurcation, which they are still not able to forgive. As a result, the Congress failed to open account in the AP Assembly in the last election in spite of the fact that it ruled the undivided state for 10 years. Its candidates received a severe drubbing in all the Lok Sabha and Assembly segments in the last election.

Therefore, political expediencies compel the Congress to find a viable partner in the state for survival in the 2019 elections. It has organisational structure with a pan AP presence. Given the Tripura experience, the organisational edifice of the Congress is likely to be subjected to poaching by the BJP, which is bereft of such a structure down the line on its way forward to the south. 

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