NEW DELHI: The prospect of Chiranjeevi embracing Congress has stirred party’s backward lobby which has been chaffing at the overwhelming Reddy dominance in recent years.
Ahead of the Praja Rajyam Party founder’s meeting with Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Sunday, Congress was abuzz that Jaganmohan Reddy’s rebellion has forced the party to recalibrate its strategy of staking all on one social group.
It has stoked the ‘Reddy vs others’ debate in Congress with backward groups the most enthused. They feel readjustment of Reddy clout would inevitably drive up the OBC influence.
The actor’s appeal across caste groups in Coastal region and his grip over the Kapu caste gives him the muscle to emerge a satrap in AP Congress, many say at the cost of Reddys.
The OBC lobby sees it as a legup for itself. The optimism is unmistakable as Kapus across the party are identifying with Chiru as if it was a monolith. The fact is that Kapus in the Coastal are forward castes as against their brethern in Telangana.
In a Congress-PRP merger, the megastar’s symbolism would be of non-Reddy muscle in the party. Chiru’s undenied appeal, backed by a strong caste spread across the Coastal region and, in a broad sense outside, shores up his political significance.
The Congress attempt at balancing Reddys with others follows the rebellion by YSR’s son. Congress feels that after installing a Reddy as CM, it can afford to consolidate support outside. A similar bid earlier would have been a red rag to the Reddys.
It has even forced a rethink in the OBC-heavy Telangana lobby which viewed party’s warming up to Chiru as a vote against statehood. Apart from Venkataswamy who attacked Sonia Gandhi, the region gave a silent welcome to the party’s partnership with PRP.
The Chiru-Congress tango has provoked Jaganmohan. The Reddy rebel slammed Congress MP V Arun Kumar as a traitor for making public a post-Lok Sabha letter in which his father YSR asked Sonia Gandhi to make Chiru a minister at the Centre.
Kumar on Saturday retaliated telling Jaganmohan, “I never imagined there would develop a deep distrust between us just because you plan to float a new party leaving Congress and I continue in the same.”
Congress too dismissed suggestions that exploring ties with PRP betrayed nerves over Jagan. AICC spokesperson Jayanthi Natarajan said, “The state government stands strong and talking to allies is not a sign of weakness but a mark of maturity of government.”