Over the last six months,at least 60 Congress district-level leaders and former MLAs have switched loyalties to the YSR Congress Party led by Jaganmohan Reddy,though on record many of them remain in the parent party. Thousands of party workers,too,did so just before last months by-elections. All this has left the ruling Congress virtually without a leadership in in the coastal and Rayalaseema districts,besides drastically eroding its support base there.
Sources in the Andhra Pradesh Congress Committee admit they are no longer sure which leader is with them in the districts. Some have officially resigned and joined the YSR Congress but we do not know the status of many others, a leader says. We see them on TV channels rubbing shoulders with YSR Congress leaders or participating in Jaganmohans meetings. No one is sure which party they are now working for.
In Vijayawada for instance,former Congress MLA V Radhakrishna joined the YSR Congress after announcing his resignation at a press conference. What followed was a shifting of loyalties by six Congress leaders of Krishna district,who took along with them more than 50,000 Congress workers.
APCC chief Botsa Satyanarayana agrees that more and more Congress leaders at district level are joining the YSR Congress but says most are a spent force. Many of these leaders are former MLAs who could not win again. They are disgruntled because the party refuses to give them tickets to elections as they are not in a position to win, he says. Many have quit the Congress and joined other parties but I dont think they are going to dent the Congress in any way.
Among the leaders who have shifted or are shifting,however,many do command a following. One is Guntur Congress MP Rayapati Sambasiva Rao,who has hinted that he will join Jaganmohans party soon. Congress MLA from Bobbili in Vizianagaram district S Ranga Rao,too,is switching loyalties. Vizianagaram is where Botsa himself hails from.
Congress leaders say the higher leadership has gone into a state of denial. We have to admit that the YSR Congress is eroding our support base. It has been reduced drastically in many districts and only when we admit that and take steps to check the slide will we have a fighting chance in the next elections, one leader said Monday.
Sources say that after the victory of the YSR Congress in the June byelections,most Congress leaders who had been sitting on the fence are now crossing over to the Jaganmohan side. The trend has been accelerated by YSRs brother Y S Vivekananda Reddy,who earlier chose to remain in the Congress and even opposed his nephew Jaganmohan but who now has joined forces with the YSR Congress,though the Congress insists he remains one of its own. Former MP and Congress leader from Adilabad Indra Karan Reddy,too,appears set to join the YSR Congress,along with two former MLAs.
In Krishna district,the switch has been on a scale that has stunned the Congress. Former Congressmen Samineni Udayabhanu and Jaleel Khan are already conveners of the YSR Congresss Krishna district and Vijayawada City units. Nuzvids former MLA Meka Prathap Appa Rao,Mylavarams former MLA S Ramesh Babu,local leader Vasireddy Padma,former zilla parishad vice-chairman Tatineni Padmavathi,former mayor Tadi Shakuntala and former corporator P Goutham Reddy are all Congress leaders who have joined the YSR Congress in recent months. And Congress MLAs Jogi Ramesh (Pedana) and Perni Venkatramaih (Machilipatnam) are expected to join the other camp.
* Y S Vivekananda Reddy,Jaganmohan’s uncle
* Rayapati Sambasiva Rao,Guntur Congress MP
n S Ranga Rao,Congress MLA,Bobbili
n Indra Karan Reddy,former MP,along with two former MLAs
* Jogi Ramesh,MLA
* Perni Venkatramaih,MLA