Hyderabad: Former Kerala chief minister and All India Congress Committee (AICC) secretary in-charge of Andhra Pradesh Oommen Chandy began an assembly constituency-wise review meeting in Krishna district of the state on Monday as part of his plan to review the party’s activities and performance in Andhra Pradesh.
Chandy is set to tour all 13 districts of the state in the next few weeks, in a move that is aimed at reviving the fortunes of the party in Andhra Pradesh. He is also scheduled to chalk out a strategy for the 2019 assembly and Lok Sabha elections when he completes the tour at the end of this month. He is set to leave Andhra Pradesh on 31 July.
The Congress leader’s tour gains significance as it comes against the backdrop of the party failing to win even a single seat in the region that constitutes Andhra Pradesh in the 2014 assembly and Lok Sabha elections. The disastrous performance of the party was largely attributed to the public blaming it for the bifurcation of the state into Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. He is also expected to choose prospective candidates for the elections next year.
Chandy’s proactiveness has given Congress leaders some hope of a revival. “When Digvijaya Singh was the state in-charge, he was not so proactive. This is a welcome change," said an Andhra Pradesh Congress Committee (APCC) member, who did not want to be identified.
Chandy has chalked out a four-phase strategy, which includes conducting review meetings and orientation programmes for district-level leaders, according to APCC vice-president Nadendla Manohar.
Congress will also constitute assembly constituency-level and polling-booth level committees, as part of the ongoing reorganization of the party in the state, Chandy said at a press conference on Monday.
The Congress leader also met N. Kiran Kumar Reddy, the former chief minister of the undivided state. Reddy, who quit the Congress just before the state’s bifurcation, is set to rejoin the Congress on 13 July.
The Congress in Andhra Pradesh also hopes to gain from the special status category (SCS) demand, which has now become a matter of political contention. Other parties such as the ruling Telugu Desam Party (TDP) and the main opposition YSR Congress Party (YSRCP) have also been raising the demand.
“Given the Congress’ disastrous performance in the 2014 elections, even if it wins one or two assembly seats in 2019, it will be big achievement and will help the party build confidence," said political analyst Palwai Raghavendra Reddy.