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Botched Party?

The new Andhra PCC chief flexes muscle

Botched Party?
P. Anil Kumar
Botched Party?
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+0553

Power Flows From...

  • Botcha Satyanarayana’s appointment as PCC chief has created an alternative power centre. It’s not good news for CM Kiran Kumar Reddy.
  • Botcha recently presided over a meeting with eight ministers
  • He has directed ministers not to make political statements
  • Party spokespersons have been asked to consult him before holding press meets
  • The appointment of Damodar Raja Narasimha as deputy chief minister is seen as a move to appease the Telangana lobby

***

With Jaganmohan Reddy’s shadow looming larger everyday, the Andhra state Congress has gone in for fresh faces to reinfuse the party with some vigour. So there’s a new PCC chief, Botcha Satyanarayana, and a deputy chief minister, Damodar Raja Narasimha. But in choosing Botcha as state unit chief, it’s evident that a parallel power centre has been created in the state. “There is no difference between the party and government, both are working towards similar ends,” Botcha said at a press meet. Under the late Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy, the PCC chief’s post was mostly ornamental (very few remember PCC chief D. Srinivas as having proffered any opinions).

Botcha has already started moving the pieces, having presided over a meeting with eight ministers, including the newly appointed deputy CM. The focus: the Andhra Pradesh Land Licensed Cultivators Ordinance meant to benefit tenant farmers. Now this is a state programme which ideally should have been publicised by the chief minister. But CM Kiran Kumar Reddy is seemingly being sidelined with Botcha turning the Congress HQ, Gandhi Bhavan, into another secretariat. The man has also been issuing statements like, “Yes it is my dream to be chief minister one day, as it is with every politician. But I will not make a backdoor entry. I will do so with full acceptance from the party and public.”

The PCC chief has wasted no time in asserting his powers. He hasn’t given up his transport ministry portfolio, and has take an aggressive stand against Jagan, doing his best to wean away the Congress MLAs currently rallying around the late YSR’s son. Taking Jagan to task for pushing his mother into the electoral scene, Botcha said, “I had tears in my eyes when I saw Vijayalakshmi walking in the hot sun, seeking votes.”

Asked about the rival power centres, Congress spokesperson Tulasi Reddy refuted all such talk. “Our target is to maintain this government till 2014,” he says. “After 2014, if Botcha wants to be a CM candidate, there’s nothing wrong. But as of now, he’s not trying for the post.” The PCC chief’s actions, though, suggest matters are not so clear-cut. He has instructed all the ministers not to make political statements. Spokespersons have been told to inform Botcha before convening press meets. With Jagan taking up the farmers’ cause, Botcha came out with a statement that the government must correct its paddy procurement policy.

Botcha is also from the SC (Kapu) community and should find acceptance among the people of Telangana. Soon after taking over, the PCC chief gave an interview to the TRS-owned Namaste Telangana in which he said that he is not opposed to the creation of a separate Telangana state.

Meanwhile, Raja Narasimha’s elevation to the deputy CM’s post is also being seen as a move to appease the simmering Telangana lobby. A three-time mla from Medak district, Narasimha is from the Madiga (SC) community and currently holds the higher education as well as agriculture portfolios. He is largely seen as a non-controversial and not very vocal proponent of Telangana.

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