Vijayawada: Battering at the hands of YSR Congress in successive by-elections notwithstanding, Congress in Andhra Pradesh does not feel the need to approach rebel Y S Jaganmohan Reddy and suggests any effort for a rapprochement should come from his side.
It also attributes the triumph of YSR Congress in the June by-elections to "sympathy" towards late Y S Rajasekhara Reddy and the arrest of his son Jaganmohan Reddy in disproportionate assets case while asserting that the party is not afraid of facing anyone at the hustings.
In a free-wheeling interview to PTI, Chief Minister Kiran Kumar Reddy spoke about the by-election defeats, future of the Congress in Andhra Pradesh and his efforts to revitalise the party and its cadre before the elections in 2014.
"All these questions will have to be answered by them (Jagan camp). These have to be put to them. Congress does not try for anyone. Congress does not leave or take anyone. Whoever wants to be in Congress are in Congress party," he said.
Reddy was responding to a question on whether he saw any possibility of a rapprochement with YSR Congress and its eventual merger with the parent party.
"Any decision (if so) has to be taken by the High Command," was all what he said when pressed further.
When asked about the party's repeated defeats at the hands of YSR Congress in by-elections, the Chief Minister said people vote in such polls based on a specific issue or incident.
"When the by-elections took place (in June) there was sympathy for Y S Rajasekhara Reddy and because of the arrest of Jagan. So people voted (in their favour)," he said.
"I don't think so. I am very confident and very positive about Congress coming back to power," he said to a question whether the same "sympathy factor" would come in the way of Congress in 2014 elections.
Talking about elections, Reddy said Congressmen have to unite before going to the people and claimed that a "united Congress" is "unbeatable" in Andhra Pradesh.
"There is no opposition to Congress party. We have to get our act together. So, that is what we are doing. We are trying to strengthen the Congress by uniting all leaders and going to the people together," he said in reply to a question who was the principal rival — TDP or YSRC — to the Congress.
The YSRC has been making inroads into the traditional vote bank of Congress ever since it made a foray into politics in May last year and has won by-elections held since then. The party was launched after Jagan quit the Congress in 2010-end.
Kiran Reddy also rejected suggestions that the party was being weakened due to desertions, saying people are welcome to leave the Congress.
"We don't bother much. We really don't mind anyone going anywhere. I have said it earlier as well that they are welcome to go," he said.
On the 2014 elections, Reddy said the performance of his government would be the main issue in the elections and that the welfare programmes would bring the party back to power.
"Congress has been ruling for the past 10 years. There will be some kind of anti-incumbency, but that will be overcome by my tour of districts and the welfare measures," he said.