Hyderabad: In the wake of sagging popularity of Congress in Andhra Pradesh, Union Minister Vayalar Ravi today began taking stock of the prevailing situation in the state's ruling party ahead of crucial by-elections to 18 Assembly and one Lok Sabha seat.
Ravi, an old hand in AP affairs, held consultations since morning with several MPs, MLAs, state ministers and other party functionaries to understand.
PCC President Botsa Satyanarayana, Rajya Sabha members V Hanumantha Rao, K V P Ramachandra Rao, a close friend of former Chief Minister Y S Rajasekhara Reddy, Ministers Kondru Murali Mohan, S Sailajanath, C Ramachandraiah and several other party legislators and functionaries were among those who met Ravi.
Party sources said Ravi held one-to-one interaction with the MLAs and others without the PCC chief being present in the room. Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy is currently on a visit to Delhi.
The need to ensure better coordination between the Chief Minister and the PCC President, the rise of Kadapa MP Jagan Mohan Reddy and his criticism of Congress, need to give importance to SCs, STs, BCs and minorities and the "need to accept separate Telangana demand" and giving 'nominated posts' to party leaders and workers were the major issues voiced by the leaders who met Ravi, they said.
Denying that there is lack of coordination between the Chief Minister and the state Congress President, Ravi said they are discharging their respective duties.
Ravi, however, stressed the party needs to be rejuvenated and strengthened from the grassroots level and geared up to face the coming bypolls.
"The YSR party (of Jagan) is trying to challenge us in the coastal area. Yes, we have to face the challenge," he said.
Ravi said his visit is not aimed at change of either the Chief Minister or the PCC president. "I have no mandate to do anything regarding the CM or the PCC president."
Ravi, who may go elsewhere in Andhra Pradesh to understand the ground realities, would submit a report to the party leadership over his visit.
The Union Minister's visit came in the wake of the trouble in the state Congress over the Telangana issue and the reported growing strength of Jagan.
The ruling party is gripped by intense infighting among party leaders in recent times. The sharp differences within the party have emerged as a matter of concern to the Congress high command as bypolls will be held soon to 18 assembly and one Lok Sabha constituency.
Congress drew a blank in the bypolls held for seven Assembly seats last month in AP which sends the largest contingent of party MPs to the Lok Sabha.
Kiran Reddy and Satyanarayana had been recently summoned to Delhi and reportedly told by the party leadership to work unitedly for Congress' victory in the coming polls.
Andhra Pradesh is the only major state where Congress is in power on its own and which has sent over 30 MPs to the Lok Sabha.
The bypolls for 16 seats have become necessary due to the disqualification of sitting Congress MLAs who switched loyalty to Jagan and voted against the Congress government during a floor test in December last year.
A sitting member quit in support of Jagan in another seat. Besides, actor-turned-politician Chiranjeevi quit as MLA following his election to Rajya Sabha.