‘The Congress brought the crisis upon itself’

AM Jigeesh New Delhi | Updated on June 07, 2019 Published on June 07, 2019

Senior politician from Andhra Pradesh, Kishore Chandra Deo   -  The Hindu

The Congress is facing unprecedented challenge in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana — its stronghold before the bifurcation of the State. A number of senior leaders left the Congress and opted for parties such as the YSRCP, the Telangana Rashtra Samithi and the Telugu Desam Party. Most recently, two-third of the party’s MLAs decided to join the TRS in Telangana. The Congress high command is unable to stop this exodus particularly when the high command is also in crisis after party President Rahul Gandhi’s decision to step down from the post. In an interview to BusinessLine, senior politician from Andhra Pradesh, Kishore Chandra Deo, who spent more than four decades in Congress before joining the TDP ahead of the Lok Sabha elections, blamed the Congress leadership for its present problems. Excerpts:

Who is to blamed for the current crisis in the Congress?

The Congress has brought this crisis upon itself in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. I don’t think the party can blame anybody else.

What are the reasons? Is it Rahul Gandhi’s decision to resign as Congress President or the continuation of problems that started after the bifurcation of the State?

It has absolutely nothing to do with Rahul Gandhi’s decision to step down. He has got some special political advisors for Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. He has a personal advisor for Odisha also. So if you have ex-bureaucrats to give you political advice, then what do you expect the local expertise and leadership to do... The advisors have to be blamed for this.

Also, I don’t believe that what happened to the Congress was only because of bifurcation of the State. I think it was the manner in which the bifurcation was done, also the time... The manner in which the situation was handled was wrong time. The timing was wrong. But that apart, the Congress in Andhra Pradesh was sliding down regularly over a period of time.

Do you mean to say that the Congress did not reach out to senior people like you...

I will give you an example. At the time of bifurcation, I was the senior most MP in Delhi from the State. I came to Parliament in 1977. All the general secretaries in charge, right from Ghulam Nabi Azad to Digvijay Singh to Oommen Chandy, none of them had interacted with me not even through a phone call.

In fact, I gave advices to the then Congress President Sonia Gandhi. Maybe, it was unwanted. But I wrote to her and I made several suggestions to her and to other senior leaders. Not a single advice was either acknowledged or implemented. So one could see it was happening. The party was in wrong hands. People in charge of the State totally played a negative role.

I am sorry to say this, but I have known Chandy for the last 40-45 years. I remember him as a close associate of AK Antony. In fact, when he was made the in- charge of Andhra, I had great hopes that he will take a pragmatic and positive view. But later, I found out that he went to those people who worked against the interests of the Congress. That was a big disappointment. The Chandy, whom I knew for decades, different Chandy.

But what made quit Congress and join the TDP?

Even before joining the TDP, there were talks about an alliance between both the parties. Having been in the party for over 40 years, I thought if there is an alliance with the TDP, I will stand with the Congress party. But that possibility was sabotaged by people within both the parties.

My main Intention of fighting the 2019 election was basically the ire and angst against the ruling dispensation at the Centre. I just wanted to use whatever political experience I had to defeat this government. It did not happen but that is a different matter. The only party on which we could depend on during that time was the TDP. I had won the 1984 election with the help of TDP. I know former Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu and his father in law NT Rama Rao from that time.

But why TDP? Why not YSRCP or TRS?

Some people in the YSRCP are the reason behind the destruction of the Congress in the State. People from that stream are still controlling the Congress. Also there was a tacit understanding between the YSRCP, the TRS and the BJP. So the only option before me was to join the TDP or to retire from active politics. I took the obvious decision to ensure that this extremist, fascist forces do not come to power.

How do you see the Telangana crisis?

Telangana was also not handled properly. Winning 2-3 Parliamentary seats doesn’t say much. Now, two-thirds of the Legislative Party members want to merge with the TRS. I had then itself told the high command not to divide a State for electoral gains. I told them that if they do this, then they may have to face a situation where the Congress will be defeated in both Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.

That came true. Same thing happened in Odisha also. I am from the borders of Odisha. The present Congress President had asked me to give some inputs on the State. I had given him a detailed note and met him a couple of times. But there also the high command followed a suicidal path. So Navin Patnaik has come back by default for a fifth term. There was no option before the people.

What will be your advice for Congress now?

I have mentioned it several times. I had written scores of notes. Nobody took heed of it. They preferred people who were resourceful in every manner. The thinking of president’s advisors is completely different. Now Andhra is gone for them. The Congress is non existent here.

Published on June 07, 2019

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