Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Sunday kicked off the party’s election campaign in Andhra Pradesh and promised that if voted to power, according Special Category Status (SCS) to the state would be one of the first things they would do. Rahul also promised that the Congress would waive off farm loans within two days as it did recently after coming to power in Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, and Rajasthan.
The Congress is going it alone in next month's Assembly and Lok Sabha polls, but Rahul Gandhi avoided a direct attack on the ruling Telugu Desam Party (TDP) led by Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu. He remarked that the parties in Andhra Pradesh had not been aggressive in pushing Modi to give the special status to the state to fulfil the commitment made by the Centre.
The Congress and the TDP had jointly contested in the recently held Assembly elections in Telangana but faced crushing defeat.
However, Rahul Gandhi targeted YSRCP President Y S Jaganmohan Reddy for corruption. "You know the mismanagement that has taken place in Andhra Pradesh. You know that the state is struggling. You also know the corruption of Jagan Reddy," he said.
In 2014, Congress had drawn a blank in both Assembly and Lok Sabha polls, as the people of the residual state were irked at the party for the bifurcation of Telangana. Both the Congress and the BJP are not big players in Andhra Pradesh. but have pegged their hopes on the regional parties.
While the Congress is lenient towards the TDP, as the latter had left the NDA alliance, the BJP is eyeing the YSRCP as a potential post-poll ally.
Speaking in Vijayawada on Sunday, Rahul Gandhi also lashed out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He said Dalits and minorities were being threatened and attacked across the country.
"There is an atmosphere of fear. This is the politics of Narendra Modi. Divide India and steal from India. Everybody knows the ultimate goal of Modi is the destruction of the Constitution of India. We are never going to allow that. Dalits, minorities, tribals, farmers, weaker sections, everybody has a right to live in this country in peace. This country is not the personal property of one man or one organisation," Rahul said.
Elections to the 175-member Assembly and 25 Lok Sabha seats in the state are scheduled to be held on April 11.
With inputs from IANS