The Congress suffered a rout in the bypolls for seven Assembly seats in Andhra Pradesh prompting senior leader K Keshav Rao to attribute the loss to the partys lack of clarity on the issue of statehood for Telangana. What brought solace to the ruling party was its victory in Udupi-Chikmagalur Lok Sabha bypoll in Karnataka and its success in wresting Mansa Assembly seat in Gujarat from the BJP after about two decades.
AICC general secretary in charge of Karnataka Madhusudan Mistry,who is from Gujarat,termed the party win in Karnataka and Gujarat bypolls as the beginning of the end of the BJP regime in the two states.
As for the results of Udupi-Chikmagalur bypoll,which came as a big blow to beleaguered Chief Minister D V Sadanand Gowda who had vacated this seat after becoming CM,Mistry said,It is an indication that we are coming. It is also an indication to leaders that if we work unitedly,we will form the next government. The Congress has become a party of all communities in Karnataka.
Mistrys reference to leaders came in the context of the party high commands decision to give responsibility of different Assembly segments under Udupi-Chikmagalur Lok Sabha seat to four Union Ministers from the state and also to Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman K Rahman Khan. While the Congress won the bypoll by over 45,000 votes,the party trailed the BJP in two Assembly segments in Chikmagalur whose charge was given to External Affairs Minister S M Krishna and Kalkal,which was placed under Corporate Affairs Minister M Veerappa Moily.
The Chikmagalur Assembly segments results put a big question mark on Krishnas perceived hold over the influential Vokkaliga community. Mistry defended Krishna saying,You have to consider the fact that the JD(S) candidate was a Vokkaliga and the Chief Minister himself is a Vokkaliga.
The rout in Andhra Pradesh,however,came as a big jolt to the Congress,which might be forced to re-assess its strategy on Telangana demand. Of the six Telangana seats,four went to TRS and one each to BJP and an Independent all had contested on pro-Telangana plank.
Unfortunately while the Congress could not give clarity on Telangana,TDP could not give clarity on Telangana,one party (TRS) said we are with Telangana today and they have won, Keshav Rao told reporters. What is more worrisome for the Congress is the fact that YSR Congress,headed by Jaganmohan Reddy,is also emerging as a big threat outside Telangana. YSR Congress candidate won Kovur seat in coastal Andhra Pradesh in its first foray outside its stronghold of Kadapa in Rayalaseema region.
The Congress dismissed Raos remarks. I do not accept at all that there is no clarity in the party on Telangana issue. The party did have clarity on it. General secretary in-charge of the state has been in touch with all stakeholders. The party has been keeping a watch on agitations going on there and we will take proper steps at an appropriate time, AICC spokesman Rashid Alvi told reporters.