ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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ANDHRA PRADESH-Serious Challenge to Congress (I)

December 18, 1982 ANDHRA PRADESH Serious Challenge to Congress (I) M Shatrugna ELECTIONS to the Andhra Assembly have always been a tame affair with the ruling Congress bagging almost a two-thirds majority every time. Even in the .1978 elections the Congress (1) got 175 seats. With defectors from the Opposition it has now 265. But the present election appears to be a different one with the emergence of Te- lugu Desam. For the first time since 1953 when Potti Sriramulu laid down his life for a separate Andhra state from the former Madras Presidency, the Telugu nation question' has been brought into the open by N T Rama Rao. NTR, a novice to politics, by raising the slogan of 'Andhra Self- Respect' for the first time has posed a challenge to Congress (I) in the state in a manner in which" no other leader has succeeded in the past. The manner in which the state leaders are treated as clapper-boys by the Congress (I) High Command is fully exposed by NTR in his election speeches. His Telugu Desam campaign appears to be modelled on the 'Sell-Respect' movement launched by E V Rama- swamy Naicker in Tamil Nadu in the 1920s. More powers to the stater,, autonomy on state issues, guarantee of press freedom, job-oriented education, full protection of civil and democratic rights and protection of the rights of the minorities are some of the issues which NTR is posing to the electorate. His remarks against the former three Chief Ministers, nominated and removed at the whim and fancy of the High Command, have roused derisive laughter and tapped popular sentiment, The formation of the party has sent a cold wave through the established parties, especially the Congress (1). N Bhaskar Rao, a serious contender for the Chief Minister's office at the time of B Venkataram's selection, was the firs! to desert the party and join Telugu Desam. NTR admitted him into his party only after he resigned from the Assembly. In fact, resignation from the Assembly has been one of the conditions laid down by NTR for those who wish to join Telugu Desam. Rao was followed by the mercurial N Sriniva- sula Reddi of Nellore district. It was Reddi who had fired the first shot that brought down the Chenna Reddy Ministry two years ago. Announcement of elections has increased the infighting in the Congress (1). It became open when 90 sitting MLAs were denied tickets and in 30 constituencies 'rebel' Congressmen filed their nominations. The list included .wo former Ministers. C V Sudhakara Rao and B Seshasayana Reddy, In several areas 'rebel' Congressmen were 'adopted' as ollicial nominees. Lists were changed many times after , the last date of nomination depending upon the 'connections' the candidate had with the High Command. The uncertainly had reached such comic proportions that even the PCC(I) chief C, Yenkalaswaim filed his nomination in Gajwel(SC) and later withdrew when the High Command assured him a berth in the coming ministry. Those denied tickets were vociferous in their indignation. The lumpen nature of the Congress (I) ranks was clear when C Ramaduss, a sitting MLA from the Sanathnagar constituency who was denied a ticket this time, attacked and ransacked the official residence of the Minister-cum- PCCO) Chief with a 500-strong mob of supporters. Significantly. he was later 'adopted' as official candidate in lieu of Shankar Rao, son-in-law of the PCC(I) chief, the PCC(I) in the state is so uncertain about its electoral prospects that it has summoned Indira Gandhi to lour the state for eight days, Rajiv Gandhi and a galaxy of Union Ministers and Chief Ministers of Congress(l)-ruled states will campaign in the state. To meet the 'film hero' on his own ground. Sivaji Ganesaiu Ainitahh Baelmn and Dtlip Kumar will campaign for the Congress (1).

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