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Rediff.com  » News » Charminar row: AP CM isolated; Cong battles communal taint

Charminar row: AP CM isolated; Cong battles communal taint

November 12, 2012 20:27 IST

The decision of Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen to withdraw support from the Andhra Pradesh government has spurred hectic behind the scene activity in the ruling Congress party.

Even the Congress high command, which watched silently the developments in Andhra Pradesh over the last fortnight, suddenly woke up to a harsh reality.

All India Congress Committee General Secretary Ghulam Nabi Azad, on a visit to Dhaka, spoke to Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy over phone about the latest situation and causes of grouse of MIM.

Sources said that chief minister was also called up by several other central leaders and asked about the mishandling of the Charminar issue.

Informed sources said that the chief minister appeared to be completely isolated on the issue as many other senior ministers, including Home Minister Sabita Indra Reddy had advised him against allowing any construction work at the disputed temple in view of the high court directions.

Even advocate general also had advised the chief minister on the same lines. But he ignored them and directed the authorities to facilitate the work of laying a tarpaulin shed at the temple in addition to the existing structure.

Sources said that chief minister told the central leaders that he took the decision on the basis of intelligence inputs, which had warned of large scale communal trouble if work was not permitted at the temple.

While the Congress central leadership found some relief in the fact that Asad Owaisi had positive things to say about Congress president and UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi, it was definitely worried about the impact on the image of Congress of Owaisi's allegation that a Congress chief minister was hand in glove with the Sangh Parivar.

AICC spokesperson Sandeep Dikshit termed the allegations at meaningless.

However, MIM's move seems to have generated a sense of urgency in the party high command in paying attention to the state of affairs in Andhra Pradesh.

A senior party leader said that while MIM's allegations of communal bias against the chief minister could be far fetched, what was obvious was that the chief minister failed in effectively dealing with a sensitive communal issue -- the disputed temple at Charminar.  

The chief minister, who avoided any public comment on the issues raised by MIM, reviewed the situation with his senior cabinet colleagues.

The meeting held at the camp office of the chief minister was attended by Deputy Chief Minister Damodar Rajanarasimha and several other ministers.

A strategy to counter the allegations of MIM President Asaduddin Owaisi was chalked out at the meeting. Senior ministers and senior party leaders were briefed on how to launch a counter offensive against MIM and defend the chief minister.

Owaisi had charged the chief minister with communal bias and connivance with the Sangh Parivar and the Bharatiya Janata Party.

Meanwhile, several senior Congress leaders expressed confidence that there was no threat to the Kiran Kumar Reddy government following the withdrawal of support.

State Congress president Botsa Satyanrayana said that the government was very much in majority and there was no threat of government falling down.

Botsa, who also met the chief minister, said that he will talk to the MIM president to resolve the crisis. But Asad Owaisi has ruled out his party going back on its decision.

Another senior party leader, V Hanumantha Rao rebutted the charge of communalism on the Congress and said that the allegations of MIM leader were incomprehensible.

He said that the reasons for the withdrawal of support by the MIM will be known in four days.

"It is wrong to suggest that Muslims will be driven away from Congress because of the MIM decision," he said.

However, the MIM issue has provided fresh ammunition to the detractors of the chief minister who were unhappy with his style of functioning and his lack of accessibility.

Sources said that unlike late Y S Rajashekhar Reddy, who was accessible to party leaders and MLAs, and even non-political people from cross-sections of society, Kiran Kumar Reddy was not available to the visitors.

Meanwhile, the Telangana supporters were also keenly watching the developments between the Congress and the MIM. They were hoping that a weak Congress government in the state will be more susceptible to their pressure and the Congress leaders from Telangana will be in a better position to exert pressure n party leadership.

In this context, the Telangana Rashtra Samiti president K Chandrashekhar Rao held a meeting with party Politburo members. The political volatility in the state has increased at a time when KCR has decided to resume his agitation for Telangana state.

 

Mohammed Siddique in Hyderabad