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High drama in Andhra Congress: Blamed for electoral rout in state, Y S Sharmila locks out PCC office bearers

'In the history of the AICC, neither the party nor its leadership has ever witnessed a PCC president who locks the office doors of the working presidents and dissolves all committees with immediate effect in response to calls for a fact-finding committee,' said Sunkara Padmasree, one of the APCC leaders.
Last Updated : 24 June 2024, 15:49 IST

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Hyderabad: Congress has not improved its performance in Andhra Pradesh, but the state unit has unleashed high drama, pushing the party into further crisis.

Sunkara Padmasree and P Rakesh Reddy, two working presidents of PCC, dashed off letters to the central leadership, citing PCC chief YS Sharmila as responsible for the party's disastrous performance in the just concluded elections, as well as alleging quid pro quo by her personal team in allocating tickets.

Following the letters, PCC chief Sharmila dissolved all the committees in the state unit and also ordered the locking of the rooms of these working presidents at the PCC office in Vijayawada.

“In the history of the AICC, neither the party nor its leadership has ever witnessed a PCC president who locks the office doors of the working presidents and dissolves all committees with immediate effect in response to calls for a fact-finding committee regarding the recently concluded assembly elections in Andhra Pradesh. This behaviour exemplifies not only PCC President Sharmila's disdain towards the organisational structure but also disregards the incessant hard work of the cadre,” said Padmasree.

In the recently concluded assembly elections, Congress could get votes just above the NOTA option. In the last 2019 polls, Congress polled below the NOTA.

Congress central leadership had pinned hopes on YSRCP supremo Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy's sister, Y S Sharmila Reddy, as she was appointed the Andhra PCC chief months before the elections. As she came with the legacy of his father, the late YS Rajasekhar Reddy, the Congress leadership hoped Sharmila would bring back the lost glory. However, Sharmila had failed to make any impact in the Lok Sabha polls.

Furthermore, in a major embarrassment, Sharmila not only lost in the Kadapa Lok Sabha, where she had contested, but also came third after the TDP candidate, allowing the YSRCP candidate and her cousin, Y S Avinash Reddy, to retain the seat.

The Congress party polled an overall vote percentage of 1.72 percent, which was just 0.55 points above the 2019 polls. NOTA had garnered around 1.09 percent of the votes. In the 2019 polls, Congress received approximately 1.17 percent of the votes, while NOTA received 1.28 percent.

In a letter to AICC general secretary K C Venugopal recently, Padmasree alleged that Sharmila's personal team, which belongs to Telangana and lacked political acumen in Andhra Pradesh, dominated when it came to ticket distribution and B form allocations to candidates on the basis upon receiving the monetary payments from the aspirants, on condition that no party fund would be given to the candidates.

Panch Nyay took back seat to personal vendetta with Jagan

Padmasree and Rakesh Reddy, who sought fact-finding by the AICC, said that in spite of alleged irregularities in the allocation and replacement of tickets, Sharmila continued her negligence in running effective election management, which cost them running behind regressive narratives, logistics failures, and addressing the fund crunch to run the candidates in the election campaign.

“Panch Nyay is our party's national agenda for the 2024 general election, but in Andhra Pradesh, the campaign centred around the murder of Y S Vivekananda, causing the Panch Nyay agenda to take a back seat. The logistics issues delayed the distribution of Panch Nyay election material, which reached the constituencies only after the election date. The state party war room was relocated from Vijayawada to Hyderabad and limited its activities to running the Kadapa Loksabha elections, leaving the state aside," Padmasree said.

"The PCC president election campaign remained skewed and confined only to a few districts. She never cared to introduce the candidates during the public meeting. The tour campaign of the PCC president lasted only 10 days out of a two-month election schedule. The PCC president election campaign and speeches were centred around her personal vendetta with her brother Y S Jagan and not concerned about the party's panch Nyay and our previous flagship welfare and development initiatives,” Padmasree added.

Lost opportunity to improve vote share

Rakesh Reddy said that Congress had a potential chance to win three assembly constituencies, namely Madakasira, Paderu, and Chirala, and improve the party vote share from the existing 1.7 percent to more than 5 percent in this election, but because of the irregularities and poor election management, the party couldn't win at least one assembly or enhance the vote share.

“We request the party leadership to appoint a fact-finding committee to investigate these allegations and protect the dedicated party cadre and emerging leadership at the grassroots level,” said Rakesh Reddy in the letter.

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Published 24 June 2024, 15:49 IST

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