By Venus Kumar for ZeroHour News
The state assembly elections are just over a year away in Andhra Pradesh and it is quite likely the general elections could be even earlier. As the second successive term of the Congress in the state enters its last lap, the party has stepped up efforts to woo voters and secure a possible third term.
Although several factors seem to be loaded against another term for the grand old party of India, the party itself is keen to get its caste-politics right and edge its rivals. Chief Minister Kiran Kumar Reddy recently launched SC/ST Sub-Plan Act at Jangareddygudem in West Godavari district as the first of the party’s initiatives to garner support for its re-election.
The CM promised to outlay Rs. 8,585 crore for SCs and Rs. 3,666 crore for STs during the current fiscal year and carry forward any balance in to the following year to ensure welfare and infrastructure development in the communities. Highlighting that the Act was the first of its kind to be enacted in the country, the CM said, “We convened special session of the Assembly for two days and took up discussion and finally passed the bill.”
“The main objective of the bill is to ensure funds allocated to these communities to be spent only for them and any chance for diversion of these funds for other purposes is ruled out,” added Reddy. The party further explained that the enactment of the Sub-Plan Act was under the direct orders of the Congress chief and NAC Chairman Sonia Gandhi.
“With these funds, these communities will be provided with education, health, employment, houses and development of infrastructure in the colonies being inhabited by these communities. In case of funds allotted failed to get spent in a year, fresh allocation of funds will be made and unspent money will also be spent to improve the lot of these communities,” elaborated the CM.
Anti-incumbency, price rise and the loss of its charismatic pro-farmer leader YS Rajashekhar Reddy are some of the factors working against the Congress, however, the government believes that last minute efforts to garner minority and backward class votes can still salvage the day.
“In the state the trend is changing towards the Congress. I have recent reports (survey) with me. The SC, ST sub plan is getting good response from the people and minorities are also in favour of the Congress. I have three to four new weapons (schemes) with me. I will announce them very soon,” Reddy was quoted as saying recently.
The YSR Congress of Jagan Mohan Reddy, meanwhile, is looking to fight the next elections on the injustice plank as well as the promise of continuing the pro-poor policies of former Chief Minister YSR. The Telugu Desam party and the TRS are yet to play their cards on the issues pertaining to backward castes.
Compared to the 2009 elections, the state will have 9 new SC and 4 new ST reserved constituencies further enhancing their weightage in the overall electoral matrix. Although, currently, it could be difficult to predict the eventual winner of the 2014 state elections in AP, it is amply clear that the backward castes are set to play a greater role in the formation of the next government in the state – irrespective of the party of the helm.
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