Turning around Andhra Pradesh, a big challenge for Oommen Chandy

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Even as his former close associates P.J. Kurien and V.M. Sudheeran have gone hammer and tongs against him, former Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy’s biggest worry now is how to revive the fortunes of his party in Andhra Pradesh as he gets ready to visit every nook and corner of the state, with the message that the good old Congress party is back.

Chandy, on Wednesday night, returned from his first visit to Andhra after taking over as the General Secretary in charge of that state.

In a chat with IANS, he dismissed the recent attacks by his former close associates with a smile and said things are tough in Andhra Pradesh but he has taken it as the biggest challenge of his political career.

“I spent the past two days interacting with the top and middle level leadership of the party there in groups and individually. Even though language is a slight problem, I managed it and now I will be there practically every week for a day or two as I have been given the permission to stay away from Delhi to stay put in Andhra by my president Rahul Gandhi,” said Chandy.

The challenge before Chandy at present is that the Congress has just a two per cent vote share there and the two leading parties — the ruling party, Telugu Desam Party and the principal opposition party, YSR Congress party, do not have the best of relations with the Congress party.

Keeping his cards close to his chest, the master tactician who has seen it all in his five decades of political play in Kerala, said in Andhra Pradesh, the ‘Congress’ party is very much there, but it is with YSR.

“I am now waiting to hear from Gandhi, who has agreed to come over to Andhra Pradesh very soon. And once he is there, I have decided to travel to every nook and corner with the message that the Congress party is back. I am hopeful of winning back the hearts of the people, who always had a soft corner for the Congress party,” he said.

Meanwhile, Kurien and Sudheeran have kept up their attack on Chandy.

The duo feels that Chandy was responsible for gifting a Rajya Sabha seat to get veteran K.M. Mani, who heads the Kerala Congress (Mani), back into the Congress-led UDF.

Since then, Kurien has been fretting and fuming as he was all set to get a fourth successive term in the Upper House. So has Sudheeran, who said Chandy never cooperated with him when he was the state party president for two years starting from 2015.

Source: Economic Times