Even as the announcement of schedule of Andhra Pradesh assembly elections by the Election Commission has become the subject of intense speculation, the ruling Congress party was putting up a brave face with a claim of successfully returning to power for second consecutive term.
Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y S Rajasekhara Reddy, who chaired Tuesday's cabinet meeting, the last before the announcement of the poll schedule, presented the results of three different extensive surveys across the state before the ministers.
According to the informed sources, the surveys showed that Congress was set to win the state elections in an emphatic manner by bagging 150 to 155 of the 175 assembly seats in coastal Andhra and Rayalseema region. The survey also showed that the party will win about 70 of the 119 assembly seats in Telangana region.
The chief minister told the cabinet colleagues that they will have to work hard, specially in Telangana region to increase the majority further. "But there is no two opinions that the Congress is going to return to power with bigger majority than we have today", sources said quoting the chief minister.
Earlier also the chief minister had claimed that the Congress will win 235 assembly seats and 33 of the 42 Lok Sabha seats in the state.
The survey reports shared with the ministers indicated that the three or multi cornered contests will ultimately help Congress in bagging the vast majority of the seats. The survey also noted that there was no anti incumbency factor at work against the government but individual sitting members of the Legislative Assembly were facing the problem. The survey showed that the replacement of such MLAs with new faces will help the party.
Meanwhile the YSR regime made a new move to corner the opposition Telugu Desam party on the issue of corruption. The cabinet accepted the recommendation of Justice Chalpati commission of inquiry on the irregularities in Kuppam project during the TDP regime and decided to order criminal investigations in to the scam by the Crime Branch CID.
The Kuppam project involved the appointment of an Israeli company BHC Agro as consulted for a cooperative farming project in the drought prone Kuppam in Chittoor district by using the drip irrigation technology from Israel. The state government paid a fee of Rs 2.43 crore to the company for transfer of technology and also imported equipment for the purpose. The pilot poject was launched on an area of 200 acres first and then extended to 2000 acres
The Congress as the opposition party had alleged irregularities in the project and ordered a judicial inquiry in 2005. The commission submitted its report in April 2007 recommending the investigations by CID against certain individuals and government officials.
The commission said BHC Agro had transferred money on regular basis to New Jersey (USA) based company Subcon Products with out proper permission from the RBI. "Accepting the recommendations, the cabinet decided to handover the probe to the CID", the state information minister A. Ramanarayana Reddy said. "We suspect a misappropriation of Rs 1500 crore in this case", he said.
But in the political circles, the move is being seen as a counter attack against Chandrabbau Naidu for his campaign demanding CBI inquiry against Rajasekhara Reddy and his son Jaganmohan Reddy for the alleged irregularities and corruption in the family owned companies.