Time with Sonia Gandhi? Easier, if you are from Andhra Pradesh
New Delhi: Congress leaders from Andhra Pradesh are finding it easy to access party president Sonia Gandhi, leading to speculation that the chief minister in the state may be staring at a premature end to his term.
Actor-politician Chiranjeevi, who merged his party with the Congress recently, met with Mrs Gandhi at 4 pm. A senior leader from the Rayalaseema district, JC Diwakar Reddy, was next in line. As many as nine ministers from the Andhra Pradesh cabinet are also positioned in Delhi. Officially, they are here to coordinate efforts to ensure Congressman Pranab Mukherjee gets the votes of all the party's MPs and state legislators in the election for President of India, scheduled for July 19.
But sources say they are keen to push for the exit of Kiran Kumar Reddy as head of the Andhra Pradesh government. There appear to be three camps within the Congress: one that's loyal to the chief minister, another that's leaning towards Chiranjeevi as leader, and a third that takes its cue from Botsa Satyanarayana, who heads the state branch of the Congress.
Congress MP blames Vijayamma's 'tears' in letter to Sonia
UPA meets today, angry Mamata won't attend: 10-point cheatsheet
6:25Pranab Mukherjee: From 'village boy' to India's next President?
21:28Presidential Polls: Has Congress called Mamata Banerjee's bluff?
In recent by-elections held in the state, the Congress won just two of the 18 Assembly seats that were at stake. It lost the Lok Sabha seat from Nellore. The big winner was Jagan Mohan Reddy and his YSR Congress, the party he founded in memory of his father, who was among the Congress' most popular leaders in the South.
Jagan's split from the Congress has cost the party heavily. His success in the elections could persuade many from his former party to defect to his side, a reason why the party's biggest leaders may be making time to meet local leaders and representatives.
One minister who met Sonia Gandhi and other senior Congress leaders said there was little real information shared about Delhi's plans for the state's leadership "The usual questions were asked on the Congress performance in the recent byelections, why Jagan is doing well, what is the status of Telangana and so on. They ask, we talk, they listen. But nothing more of it.
There's talk of whether, after the Presidential election, the Congress in Delhi will finally take a stand on the volatile issue of whether to bifurcate Andhra Pradesh to create a state for Telangana - prospect that has caused violence among both Telangana activists and the other two regions of coastal Andhra Pradesh and Rayalaseema. Governor ESL Narasimhan met Sonia Gandhi on Tuesday but claimed did not submit a political report on Andhra Pradesh. He has, however, held meetings with different political leaders in Hyderabad, which has led to speculation that he is assessing local and political sentiment about granting statehood to Telangana. In December 2010, Home Minister P Chidambaram had, in a surprise move, announced that the Centre would initiate the process of creating a Telangana state. Weeks of violence forced a suspension of that decision. Since then, the matter has remained unresolved.