Will Rahul’s visit resurrect Congress in Telangana?

Hyderabad, Aug 12: Will the two-day visit of Congress president Rahul Gandhi to Hyderabad will help resurrect the party in Telangana to face the next year’s simultaneous elections to Lok Sabha and state assembly?

This question is being debated in the political circles as Rahul is set to land in Hyderabad on Monday for two-day hectic tour.

After failing to come to power in 2014 despite claiming credit for carving out Telangana state, this time Congress faces an acid test. The party is working out a strategy to highlight the failures of Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) government.

The main opposition party has been targeting TRS for what it calls its secret understanding with the BJP. State Congress chief Uttam Kumar Reddy has even described Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao an agent of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Political observers say Rahul’s visit will provide a boost to Congress, which received many setbacks during last four years due to about a dozen of its MLAs crossing over to TRS. The Congress party seems to be on a weak turf due to lack of strong leadership to counter KCR and internal differences.

As Rahul is growing in his popularity at the national level ever since he took over as the party chief, the party leaders and cadre in Telangana are upbeat over his first visit to the state as party chief.

Instead of addressing huge rallies, Congress president will be focusing on meeting various sections of people to convey his message.  His programme includes interactions with various segments of the society including students, youth women, minorities and party workers.

The Congress president will interact with women and also address a meeting in Serlingampally, which is dominated by the people of Andhra and Rayalaseema region. Party sources said that this was aimed at reassuring the Andhra community that on coming to power Congress will take care of their interest.

Interactions with editors of all print and electronic media of Hyderabad and interactive session with industrialists have also been scheduled.

He will address members of women self help groups (SHGs) at another programme, where he is likely to push party’s policy while criticising TRS. He is likely to announce party’s plans to help the SHGs, promising revival of Abhay Hashtam Pension and announcing plans for Rs 10 lakh interest-free loans for the SHGs. The Congress president might also try to appeal to 70 lakh women voters by promising to provide office building to their self help groups in each Gram Panchayat

Rahul will also address more than 30,000 booth committee members of the party across the state through teleconference.

The denial of permission by Osmania University for his visit to the campus has provided ammunition to Congress to target TRS. Though university authorities said the permission was not given on security grounds, the Congress leaders alleged that TRS government pressurised the university not to allow Rahul’s programme. The Congress president was to address a meeting of students on the campus.

 

“Who is the one who is scared that Rahul will talk of security, safety, and welfare of minorities? Who is the one who is scared that Rahul will question unfulfilled promises like fee reimbursement to students, a job for every family? Everyone knows who pressured OU to decline permission,” Reddy said.

This is the second time that Rahul has been denied permission to visit OU, which was the hotbed of Telangana movement but in recent months witnessed protests by various student groups over issues like unemployment and unfulfilled promises by the TRS.

Rahul will address a meeting of students at Saroornagar, where he is expected to target both TRS and BJP over unemployment.

 In an attempt to underline the role played by Congress in making Telangana state a reality, Rahul will visit Telangana martyrs’ memorial to pay his tribute. A meeting with small traders is also planned.

The Congress president will also meet leaders of Muslim community. He will try to convince them that voting for TRS will mean voting for BJP.

 

Congress leaders say Rahul will visit Telangana every month in the run up to the elections. Only time will tell if this will change the party’s future in the state.

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