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Rahul to address public meeting in Andhra on Sunday

IANS | Vijayawada |

After his visit to Telangana earlier this week, Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi will visit Andhra Pradesh on Sunday to address a public meeting in Guntur near here on the demand for special category status to the state.

Gandhi will promise the special category status to Andhra Pradesh if the party is voted to power in the 2019 assembly elections.

At the public meeting, the Congress leader will also likely come down heavily on the Telugu Desam Party-Bharatiya Janata Party coalition in the state for going back on their poll promise to accord the special status to Andhra Pradesh.

Janata Dal-United leader Sharad Yadav, Communist Party of India national Secretary S. Sudhakar Reddy, and Samajwadi Party leader and former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav will address the rally, state Congress chief Raghuveera Reddy said.

The Congress has also invited YSR Congress Party chief Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy and actor-politician Pawan Kalyan to the meeting.

It will be the first major public meeting to be addressed by a national Congress leader in Andhra Pradesh since 2014, when the party was wiped out in the simultaneous elections to the assembly and Lok Sabha.

Blamed for the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh, the Congress faced the worst rout in its former stronghold as it could not win even a single assembly or Lok Sabha seat in the state.

Rahul Gandhi had visited the state in 2015 but it was confined to a 'padyatra' in Anantapur district to highlight the problems of farmers and women.

During the debate on the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Bill in Parliament, the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had promised the special status to Andhra Pradesh for five years.

Both the BJP and TDP, during the 2014 elections, had promised the special status for 10 years.

The BJP-led National Democratic Alliance government at the Centre, however, has ruled out the special status, citing a report of the 14th Finance Commission, which states that no state other than north-eastern and hilly states could be given this status.

The Centre last year announced a special package, instead of special status, for Andhra Pradesh. 

Since then, the BJP-TDP alliance has been facing criticism from opposition and other organisations.

Rahul Gandhi's public meeting in Sangareddy in Telangana on Thursday drew huge public response, even beyond the party's own expectations. This was the first major show of strength by the Congress in three years in Telangana.

The Congress leader targeted Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao for perpetrating 'family rule' and for failing to fulfil the dreams and aspirations of the people of Telangana.