Leaders from Telangana and Andhra Pradesh gave an exhaustive account of the reasons for the party’s defeat to party general secretary Digvijaya Singh on Monday and enumerated the steps to be taken for rebuilding the party. Rediff.com contributor Anita Katyal reports.
Bemoaning the lack of media support for the Congress in the Seemandhra region during the recent Lok Sabha and assembly polls, state leaders have suggested that the party should establish its own newspaper and television channel to communicate its viewpoint to the electorate.
This is among the 16 suggestions submitted by the Andhra Pradesh Congress Committee to Digvijaya Singh, AICC general secretary in-charge of Andhra and Telangana, at a special review meeting on Monday.
Leaders from the two states gave an exhaustive account of the reasons for the party’s defeat and enumerated the steps to be taken for rebuilding the Congress organisation in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.
Despite giving in to the demand for the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh, the Congress was decimated in Telangana where it was able to win only two Lok Sabha seats while it was blanked out in the Seemandhra region. The Telugu Desam Party and the Bharatiya Janata Party alliance swept Seemandhra while the Telangana Rashtriya Samiti was the big gainer in the newly-carved out state.
The media was clearly the target of attack at this meeting. Stating that the media support enjoyed by the TDP, BJP and Jaganmohan Reddy-led YSR Congress was among the reasons for the Congress’ worst-ever performance, Seemandhra leaders said the Congress was unable to communicate its achievements to the people while the rival parties succeeded in their “malicious campaign” that gross injustice had been done to their region in the bifurcation of the state.
It was underlined that the media played a key role in enhancing the opinion that the Congress was to blame for the division of the state while overlooking the fact that all political parties had given their consent to the proposal.
The party, they said, also failed to use social media effectively to propagate its views. It has, therefore, proposed that district offices be equipped with communication technology like video conferencing and social media.
Coming down heavily on former chief minister Kiran Kumar Reddy, the team led by Andhra Pradesh Congress Committee president N Raghuveera Reddy, lamented that no action was taken against him even after he defied the decisions taken by party president Sonia Gandhi and openly encouraged employees and students to protest against the party high command and the United Progressive Alliance government.
Moreover, the Congress’ failure to form an alternative government after Reddy’s resignation also caused severe damage to the party, it was pointed out. In fact, the overwhelming view that the Congress defeat was inevitable pushed the voters to seek out the TDP and YSR Congress
The YSR Congress succeeded in convincing the people that all the welfare schemes initiated by the Congress government were actually their brainchild while the TDP-BJP alliance’s electoral promises like agriculture loan waiver was lapped up by the electorate.
Although Congress leaders from Andhra Pradesh privately maintain that the decision to bifurcate the state cost them dearly in the elections, their written submission instead said “the manner in which division” was undertaken did incalculable damage to the party.
Other reasons cited for the Congress defeat included ten years of anti-incumbency against the state and the central government, price rise and linkage of Aadhar card to supply of cooking gas and the use of money and flow of liquor by the rival parties.
Congress candidates, in comparison, belonged to the middle classes and “had no money” to spend in the elections unlike their political opponents who were flush with funds.
Laying down the future roadmap, the Andhra Congress unit suggested the party can stage a comeback if it is restructured at all levels and its leaders are accessible to grassroots workers while disciplinary action is initiated against defiant leaders.
It is also proposed that a special camp be organised for party workers to create awareness about the division of the state and the packages announced by the UPA government.
Stating the party can win back its traditional support base among scheduled castes, scheduled tribes, backward classes and minorities by giving encouraging leaders from these social groups, it was also proposed that the Congress snap out of stupor and take to the streets against the anti-people policies of the new government.
Telangana Congress leaders, led by its state unit president P Laxshamaih, also suggested that the organisation be revamped at the earliest and issues arising from the State Reorganisation Act be sorted out immediately.
Leaders of the two states will make their presentation on the reasons for their defeat and their proposals for the future before senior party leader A K Antony on July 2.