It is not very often that you see in Andhra Pradesh that a member of the N T Rama Rao family being on the back foot and this especially cannot be the case when the person in question is the daughter of the legend.
Look at the candidature of Purandeshwari, the daughter of N T Rama Rao from the Rajampet constituency and by any stretch of imagination one cannot say that this is making any sense. Her rift with her brother in law, Chandrababu Naidu is a well known fact and this many feel would turn into negative campaign by the TDP against her. Purandeshwari is fighting the election on a BJP ticket and as per the agreement with the TDP, she does expect a lot of support from the local cadre.
The Congress which was almost un-touchable in Andhra Pradesh when Dr Y S Rajashekhar Reddy was alive today faces two rock solid problems- Jaganmohan Reddy and Telangana. Jagan even went up to the extent of saying in New Delhi that he was doing the Congress a favour by not taking away its MLAs at this point of time.
While these developments unfurl there was talk that Minister of State for Steel and senior Congress leader, Sai Prathap would shift loyalties and join the Jagan group soon. However the man himself dismisses this as a rumour. Interestingly in this interview with
rediff.com, Prathap also goes on to say that it would be a happy ending after all as he thinks and hopes that Jagan would come back to the Congress party.
There is talk that you will be shifting base and joining the Jagan faction.
Who has told you this? It is unfair to start such rumours since I have no such plans.
Are you sure because it seems pretty strong- the rumour.
(Laughs) I think I know better about what I want to do than what you people think. I am very sure that there is no such move on my part.
Do you at least agree that the Congress is in doldrums in Andhra Pradesh?
Again it is unfair to say that. Following the death of Dr Reddy there has been a vaccum and the party is coping up with this loss. He was a great leader and that goes without saying. The government in AP will sail through another three years as it has that much time. The party is strong and has come back to power in the state for the second time in a row and that itself says a lot about the position of the party.
I agree that the party was at a position of strength until Dr YSR passed away. However his son has made matters worse by breaking away. Isnt that correct?
Yes the Jaganmohan Reddy issue is there. We have to wait and see what shape this issue takes. It is actually difficult to comment on the position of the Congress at the moment since there are a lot of developments that are and have taken place. Do not under estimate Kiran Kumar Reddy, the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh. He is a very strong man and I am pretty sure he will tide over this crisis.
Coming back to the alleged rumour regarding you there is news that you spoke with Jagan and assured that you would join him.
I do not know why you are stuck on this point. I have not approached him or spoken to him regarding changing the party. He has left the party and has his own plans but I am not in that now. I still do not understand why such a rumour has been floated about me. It is baseless.
There must be a reason why such a rumour has been floated. Do you know who it is who has been floating around such news?
I do not want to take names, but there are two persons within the party itself who have been floating these rumours. They have ruined it for the party and when the time comes their names will come out.
Are you entirely happy with the party? Has the Jagan factor never impressed you or has even tempted you to cross over?
I am a 6 time Member of Parliament and I have been recognized by the party. Why else would they give me the rank of Minister of State for Steel. They have recognized my work and dedication for the party. I have been with the party for 30 years now and I am happy with it. So when this is this why would I think of crossing over? Moreover I have not made any comments against the party or in favour of Jagan which would prompt the rumour mills to start talking.
The Telangana issue. Will that be the Waterloo for the Congress?
I do not think so. Everyone knows that Andhra Pradesh cannot be divided. You know what is more interesting? The leaders from Telangana too are aware that there cannot be a division of the state at any cost. I have been fighting and vocally expressing that Andhra should remain united. How much ever you may want to think, but the Telangana issue is not an issue at all for the Congress as Andhra will remain united.
Who does Dr YSR belong to today? Jagan or the Congress?
In the Congress we believe that we have to respect our senior leaders and also recognize the work that they have done for the party and also the people. YSR has sacrificed a lot for the people and the party and his name will always be associated with the Congress. His boy has however differed and left the party. We have to wait and see what happens in the near future. YSR will however be part of the Congress and even today all the leaders of the party mention his name and the works undertaken by him in public without fail.
So, there is no immediate danger for the Congress in AP?
No not at all. I am saying with all my experience. The party will remain safe.
What will the Congress do to remain safe?
Work for the people. That should be the primary focus of the party. All the developmental works will be completed and the people will benefit. You wait an see how things shape up because I can say with a lot of confidence that the people will not let go of the Congress.
There is an alleged link up between Jagan and the Telangana Rastriya Samithi. Your thoughts please.
No thoughts on this one brother. It is just a rumour and one should not read too much into that.
So, what is the future of Jagan in Andhra Pradesh?
Only time will tell. As of now all I want to say is that Jagan will come back to the Congress and that is my confidence.