By: A Saye Sekhar
Hyderabad: When Prime Minister Manmohan Singh delivered his speech punctuated with necessary pauses at Bhonghir on Saturday, enthusiasm among people was muted. Elsewhere in the same Nalgonda district, YSR Congress president YS Jaganmohan Reddy addressed a massive rally, which shone in contrast, the same day with people cheering him lustily even when he expressed views against the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh. A day before, on Friday, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi addressed two public meetings in Telangana, including one in Hyderabad. It must have been embarrassing for him to watch people walking out of one of the venues in big numbers while he was speaking.
That probably describes the Congress’ story in Telangana like nothing else does. Beginning with Sonia Gandhi, none of the national Congress leaders are able to strike a sentimental chord with the people of Telangana. The rant that the Congress was singularly responsible for the creation of a separate Telangana is somehow not cutting much ice with the electorate.
Every Congress leader worth his salt is grappling in his respective constituency, with none having a pan-Telangana stature to establish a connect with the people. So much haggard are the Congress leaders descending on the about-to-be created state that their foibles are impaled by crowds that tend to leave the venues in hordes, even as the top leaders are making their best effort to impress their audience.
It does not help that the non-descript candidates selected by the party are at odds with the senior leaders. The occasional whammy by senior leaders has indeed accentuated the disturbance in the Congress, which otherwise too could never achieve a sync in its symphony among its leaders and cadres. Union Minister Jairam Ramesh, who has nothing to lose while front-ending the Congress campaign, came up with the idea of eliminating the contenders for the coveted position of the chief minister in Telangana by limiting the scope to Dalit leaders alone.
Senior leaders did not mince words in shredding his promise seeking to know if such an announcement was warranted and whether it had the endorsement of the high command. For, a leader aspiring for the top job from among the Dalit communities will naturally be eyed with envy by others.
Rahul Gandhi in his latest public meeting further narrowed down the scope saying that it was his dream to see a female chief minister inadvertently giving an opportunity for the media to speculate on who could be his choice for the position. Several media houses zealously put two into two together and came up with the answer, four. The Congress usually leaves the options open. But now, with the scope getting diminished to find a Dalit woman, other senior leaders have loosened the grip over their determination to get the party to power. At least, they will not shoulder the onus of achieving this Herculean task.
The chief ministerial aspirants like D Srinivas, K Jana Reddy, S Jaipal Reddy, Ponnala Lakshmaiah have all been feeling relegated now. Telangana PCC chief Ponnala’s unqualified valour in fighting TRS president KCR is now at a loss to understand why should he engage himself in a war of words whose denouement means nothing for him.
A similar question must be lurking in the mind of working president of TPCC N Utham Kumar Reddy. Is that the reason why the two leaders stayed away from Saturday’s public meeting of the Prime Minister? Dr Singh’s feeble appeals to electors seeking support for his party as it has granted separate Telangana doesn’t seem to have many takers.
With the top echelons of the Congress missing badly on the ‘wow factor’, which KCR was able to create among voters, the rank and file of the party is strongly feeling that the public meetings of their ‘star campaigners’ are either proving to be a damp squib or turning out to be counter-productive.
Rahul Gandhi’s effort to invoke emotion by saying that he wanted to adorn his wrist with a ‘Made in Telangana’ watch became butt of derision among people and the quirky observation was crucified on social media. People immediately began talking about the closure of HMT public sector major Hindustan Machine Tools) and Allwyn (a State-level Public Enterprise) which used to make beautiful wrist watches. Who is to blame for this? Largely, the policies of the Congress were responsible for these units bringing down shutters to their once-roaring and prestigious businesses.
Also, people began to question if Nano car has an inscription of Made in Gujarat or a Volkswagen is labeled as Made in Maharashtra? All products made in the country have a ‘Made in India’ brand. Rahul Gandhi’s ‘Made in Telanagana’ remark hasn’t gone down well with any section, including the sycophants of the Gandhi family.
Public meetings of national Congress leaders have done more harm than good to the party in Telangana, even as the campaign is coming to a close on Monday evening.