Internal squabble brews in Andhra Congress

The Congressmen in Andhra Pradesh are back to doing what they are best at: Infighting.

The gloves are off as the warring factions in the ruling party geared up for a battle of one-upmanship. The internal squabbles have intensified after Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy undertook cabinet expansion and a minor reshuffle of the portfolios three days ago.

The APCC president B Satyanarayana, also a minister, is emerging as a rallying point for the dissidents who have stepped up their attack on the chief minister. He has been holding meetings with three dissident ministers and other leaders to chalk-out a strategy to take on Kumar Reddy.

One of the rebel ministers, Dr D L Ravindra Reddy, who was stripped of key departments in the recent reshuffle, came out in the open on Thursday and accused the chief minister of “colluding” with the leader of the opposition and Telugu Desam Party president N Chandrababu Naidu to “defame” the critics within the party.

“There is a match-fixing between the chief minister and the opposition leader,” Reddy, who holds the Health and Family Welfare portfolio, said. He was divested of the key subjects like medical education and health insurance scheme in the reshuffle.

The latest to be co-opted by the rebel camp is the Excise Minister M Venkata Ramana who is facing an Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) case for allegedly accepting Rs 10 lakh kickbacks from a liquor syndicate leader.

Though Ramana retains his job, for now, despite the opposition demand for his dismissal from the cabinet, the bribery case against him has provided ammunition to the dissidents to attack the chief minister. Ravindra Reddy accused the chief minister of “deliberately targeting him because he belongs to a backward class”.

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