The party has a long way to go in State, admits former Kerala CM
There is a change in the political climate that is favourable to the Congress with the Modi government failing on all fronts, said AICC general secretary in charge of Andhra Pradesh Oommen Chandy.
In an interview with The Hindu here on Tuesday, Mr. Chandy said there was a big gap in what Prime Minister Narendra Modi had promised in 2014 and what he had delivered, leaving the people totally disappointed. The GST had dealt a body blow to lakhs of people and the worst affected were those in the small and medium enterprises and Tirupur in Tamil Nadu, the textile town stood testimony to its full impact. Consumers too felt the the heavy tax burden.
To a question on the GST, the senior Congress leader said though his party had supported the GST Bill, it had pressed for measured, slow and steady steps in its implementation. “But the NDA government did not listen to us and now you see people suffering with the hasty way it is being implemented; In fact though the Congress initiated the GST process, it kept it in abeyance after realising the impact it would have on people and on the advice of former Union Minister P. Chidamabaram.”
Such punishing laws and other harsh measures changed the people’s opinion about the NDA government and they now felt the need for a democratic and secular formation and elections in 2019 would be a reflection of this national scenario. “Look at the plight of the farmers. They are beset with problems of crop loans, lack of minimum support price and crop insurance. Only Congress can alleviate their suffering.”
He said in A.P. too he was able to feel the difference of perception towards the Congress from what it was in 2014 and people favoured it now but admitted that the party had a long way to go. The party was working hard, strengthening it from the booth level and it would help in changing their view.
SCS main issue
Asked about the issues the party would project in the Assembly polls, he said : “We will make the Special Category Status the number one issue and drive home the point that only Congress will be able to give it. The BJP has deceived the people by going back on its SCS promise. In fact, when former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh promised it for five years, the BJP demanded it for 10 years but forgot everything after coming to power.”
But the TDP appears to have hijacked the SCS issue now? Responding, Mr. Chandy said the TDP cannot escape the blame as it had shared power with the NDA for three and half years and miserably failed to prevail over the BJP to grant it. “The TDP is number one culprit. We will take this to the people öf Andhra Pradesh.” He said the SCS was not included in the AP Reorganisation Act as there was no such precedent.
To a question, he made it clear that the Congress would go it alone in the 2019 Assembly elections in AP.
He said there had been a positive response to the party’s call to leaders who left it to return. Former Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy would be among the first ones to return on July 13. Asked if the call included YSRCP president Y. S. Jagan Mohan Reddy, he laughed it away: “How will he be invited? He is now heading a different party.”