Congress fine-tuning its strategy for Andhra bypolls

New Delhi: Having suffered successive electoral defeats in the past two years, the Congress in Andhra Pradesh is fine-tuning its strategy in the state where by-elections to 18 assembly and one Lok Sabha constituencies would be held soon.

As part of the process, Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy is holding hectic consultations with the Congress top brass for the past few days on ways to revive the party`s electoral fortunes in the state, the engine of UPA-I and II by sending over 30 MPs in 2004 and 2009 general elections.

Camping in the capital since Monday, Reddy met party chief Sonia Gandhi, treasurer Motilal Vohra and General Secretary in-charge of party affairs Ghulam Nabi Azad and is understood to have discussed the selection of candidates for the key by-elections, most of which will be held in non-Telangana regions where Y S Jaganmohan Reddy is said to have considerable clout.

During his meeting with Azad, Kiran Reddy briefed him about the prevailing political situation in the state and discussed the strategy to be adopted in the polls, which are yet to be announced by the Election Commission.

Eighteen constituencies, including one in Telangana region, would go to by-polls after 16 Congress MLAs were disqualified following their vote against the Government on the floor of the House in December last year. Two legislators resigned on their own.

The fine-tuning of strategy follows the party`s rout in the recent by-elections to six Assembly seats in the Telangana region and one in coastal Andhra.

While the party`s non-decision on the separate statehood demand is attributed to its rout in Telangana, Jagan`s influence is being cited as the reason for its non-performance in coastal Andhra. Congress has been losing by-elections in Telangana and non-Telangana regions since 2010.

On Monday, the party rushed Union Minister Vayalar Ravi, who has handled many a crises in the Andhra Pradesh Congress in the past, to Hyderabad to interact with party leaders on the ways to revive the party.

Ravi was sent to the state at a time the Chief Minister was camping in the capital to attend the Chief Minister`s Conference on Internal Security and to finalise the state`s plan expenditure.

This is the third time that Kiran Reddy met Azad in the past one month to discuss the political situation and the by-elections in the state. Azad had also held meetings with party MPs from all regions of the state and asked them to work for the victory of the nominees in the by-elections.