The Special Category Status (SCS) seemed to have now come in handy for the Congress as an elixir for resurrection from its death bed in Andhra Pradesh.
The Congress party, which led the earlier UPA Government at the Centre, had divided the united Telugu state into Telangana and Andhra Pradesh states with a machiavellian move to garner votes and return to power in the 2014 elections. To its utter dismay, the party was completely washed out in Andhra Pradesh and escaped by the skin of its teeth in Telangana. And since then the party has been lying low in AP, while the Jagan Mohan Reddy-led 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 from the beginning has been spearheading, apart from other things, the cause for a Special Category Status for the state as was promised by the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in the Parliament during the passage of the AP Reorganization Bill. Jagan Mohan Reddy has launched various agitation programmes like dharnas, rallies, bandhs etc demanding SCS. What is more during the last three years he and his party members had created a logjam in the State Assembly on the issue.
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 meeting the Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently, has led to many tongues wagging. As if this was not enough, Jagan Mohan Reddy even extended his unstinted support to the NDA for the ensuing Presidential elections. All these sudden developments led the people as well as political circles to suspect that there was something more to it than meets the eye. Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu, on the other hand, undoubtedly heaved a sigh of relief as Jagan and his party have become a thorn in his flesh.
Thus the sudden silence on the part of YSRCP on the issue of SCS was seen as a silver lining in the dark clouds for the Congress which has been searching for a potent drug for revival from its death bed in the state. Without losing any time, the State Congress organized a massive public meeting addressed by AICC Vice-President Rahul Gandhi at Guntur on June 4. Even Rahul Gandhi utilized the opportunity to take on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP by ensuring that the leaders of the Opposition’s Mahakatbandhan also take part in the meeting. And as desired by the Sate Congress leaders, the public meeting was a big success with Rahul Gandhi and leaders like Akilesh Yadav, Sharad Yadav, A.Raja and others, unleashed a barrage of volleys against BJP-TDP combine on the issue of SCS. To give further boost to the Congress
plan to take on the TDP, film actor and founder President of Jana Sena Party, Pawan Kalyan, extended full support to the Congress in the movement for achieving SCS.
It is pertinent to note here that Pawan Kalyan, who has a huge fan following in the state, especially among the youth, has himself took up the cause for SCS and even organized few public rallies in this regard.. The film star who had supported the TDP-BJP alliance in the state during the 2014 elections and was undoubtedly helped in the TDP coming to power, was himself peeved with the delay in the Centre conceding the demand for SCS. Apart from criticising both the BJP and TDP in this regard, the actor-politician even hobnobbed with Jagan Mohan Reddy in this regard leading to speculations about a possible tie up between Jana Sena and YSRCP in the 2019 elections. Even the people of the state, especially the youth, felt let down by Jagan on the issue of SCS. This in a way made the people to attend the Rahul Gandhi’s meeting in large numbers and ensured its stupendous success.
All these unexpected turn of events has undoubtedly come as a morale booster for the State Congress. Rahul Gandhi unleashing a tirade against Narendra Modi and Chandrababu Naidu at the public meeting was understandable. But the Gandhi scion lambasting Jagan for his silence on SCS issue and the latter refraining to react was something that was not expected. But all these have come as a blessing in disguise for the State Congress, which is now gearing up to take on the TDP and the BJP in the 2019 elections.
One cannot also ignore the fact here that the central leadership of the Congress seemed to be employing two different strategies for the party’s revival in the two Telugu States. This is clearly evident from Rahul Gandhi’s public meetings at Guntur and earlier at Sangareddy in Telangana State. 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 Rahul Gandhi’s visit to Guntur and Sangareddy had helped the Congress party in both the states to survive, leave alone coming back to power as was being claimed, one thing is sure – it has definitely helped in brining together all the factions in Telangana on to one platform, and awakened the slumbering and sloppy Congress leaders in Andhra Pradesh.(NSS).