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Cong yatra to parade unity

New Delhi, Sept. 19: The Congress will impart lessons in unity and peace to its Andhra Pradesh unit on Gandhi Jayanti day next month when warring leaders will be brought together for a two-month-long statewide yatra.

AICC general secretary in charge of state affairs Ghulam Nabi Azad will persuade all faction leaders to board the “unity bus” on a journey of a hundred Assembly constituencies spread across all districts of the state.

Azad believes he will be able to replicate the Karnataka success of four years ago, when he had persuaded that state’s leaders to board a bus on a three-month-long “panchajanya yatra”. The unity show, he believes, helped the party achieve spectacular success in the subsequent Assembly polls held along with the 1999 general elections.

But Andhra may well prove to be tougher. Unlike the Karnataka unit, the Andhra Congress remains a divided house even after the recent change of guard in the state Congress committee. D. Srinivas has taken over from Satyanarayana Rao as the new state chief.

Senior leaders such as former Union ministers G. Venkataswamy and P. Shiv Shankar, former chief minister . Janardhana Reddy and AICC secretary Hanumantha Rao continue to be unhappy.

Legislature party leader Y. Rajashekhara Reddy, however, was hopeful of better things when he was here two days ago. The party’s situation in the state after losing power to the Telugu Desam Party way back in 1994 should provoke the leaders to at least stage a public show of unity to instil confidence among voters, he felt.

Azad, too, is banking on the common enemy, chief minister . Chandrababu Naidu, and his “anti-people policies” to help patch up the state unit.

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