TNN | Mar 25, 2014, 04.52 AM IST
HYDERABAD: Is KVP Ramachandra Rao, the all-powerful advisor to then chief minister Y S Rajasekhara Reddy, now running the Telangana Pradesh Congress Committee? So aver Congressmen, puzzled how this politician from Seemandhra has managed to control the newly-formed TPCC. His hand was first apparent when lightweight Ponnala Lakshmaiah was appointed the first chief of TPCC last fortnight. If the Congress were to be elected to power in Telangana, in all likelihood Ponnala will be named the chief minister.
Now, KVP as he is known, is batting for an Assembly ticket for Sureedu from Kukatpally in the city. For those who came in late, Sureedu was officially the personal secretary of YSR, but in reality his personal attendant. Ponnala, although from Telangana, was far removed from the cause of a separate state. He was the irrigation minister in the YSR government and in later governments. Incidentally, KVP who has fallen out with Jagan, is believed to be the person who aired that the latter should become the chief minister even as YSR’s body was lying in state. Jagan had to pay a heavy political price for this statement.
KVP, who opposed the bifurcation of the state and stood mum in Rajya Sabha with a huge placard “Jai Samaikyandhra”, however, refrained from launching a diatribe against the Congress high command when the entire lot of Seemandhra Congressmen was critical of the powers-that-be in Delhi. This has raised his stock with 10 Janpath, which went up further when he was able to get reelected to the Rajya Sabha a month ago. The Congress high command, with all the ruckus in the party, was not expecting party candidates to be able to manage a victory.
Congress sources said KVP ensured the appointment of Ponnala as Telangana Congress chief so that the interests of irrigation contractors in the new state can be protected. Jalayagnam was the flagship welfare scheme launched by YSR. “While it was KVP who doled out the irrigation contracts for which Rs.10,000 crore was earmarked in every financial year of the five-year YSR regime, it was Ponnala as the major irrigation minister who got the contracts executed. If the Congress comes to power in Telangana, Ponnala could end up as the chief minister and that would ensure that the interests of the irrigation contractors will continue to be protected,” T- Congress insiders averred.
The YSR regime launched Jalayagnam in 2004. In the beginning, there were only 26 irrigation projects and the total cost of the projects was estimated to be Rs.46,000 crore. Out of these, eight projects were to be completed within two years and the rest in three years. Thus, as per the original schedule, Jalayagnam was to be completed by 2009. However, in 2008, the government brought in 60 more irrigation projects under this programme and most of them are yet to be completed. By 2010, the cost of the projects shot up to a whopping Rs.1,86,000 crore.
Before he demitted the office of chief minister, Kiran Kumar Reddy had proposed that the irrigation contractors be given another Rs.20,000 crore to meet cost escalation for the ongoing projects in the state. If that amount is cleared, the total cost of the irrigation projects will touch Rs.2 lakh crore. In fact, it is a practice in the state that the contractors are given a handsome “mobilization advance” even before the construction is taken up.
When asked whether he had any role in the appointment of Ponnala as TPCC chief, KVP told TOI that it was a slander campaign launched against him by some party leaders from the region. “Some disgruntled leaders who could not find a place in the new PCC are behind such baseless allegations. In fact, the Congress high command has decided to promote the party rather than any individual. That is why you have a president and a working president. And who can stop me from coming as an observer to Telangana? When Congress leaders from other states can become observers for Telangana, why not a Telugu person from the Seemandhra region,” he said. Ponnala was not available for comment.
Meanwhile, Sureedu is all eager to be the Congress candidate from Kukatpally. “TPCC president Ponnala Lakshamiah has included my name in the list submitted to the party. Malkajgiri Lok Sabha MP Sarve Satyanarayana, in whose parliamentary constituency Kukatpally falls, told me that he would not oppose his name. I have already received the support of many local leaders,” Sureedu told TOI.
Sureedu fell out with Jaganmohan Reddy after the death of the father and even deposed against the YSR Congress president in the disproportionate assets case filed by the CBI against the former. Sureeedu managed to meet AICC general secretary Digvijay Singh during the latter’s recent visit to Hyderabad and put in his request for the Kukatpally ticket. “Digvijay sir has gone to Bhopal. I will call on him again after his return to Delhi on Tuesday,” he said.