BRS faces biggest crisis of its existence ever

Despite placed against odds, party leadership believes in weathering out storm

Updated - March 30, 2024 07:29 pm IST

Published - March 30, 2024 06:24 pm IST - HYDERABAD

Bharat Rashtra Samithi MP Ranjith Reddy joined the Congress in the presence of Telanagana Chief Minister Revanth Reddy and Telangana AICC in-charge Deepa Dasmunsi in Hyderabad on March 17, 2024. Photo: X/@INCTelangana via ANI

Bharat Rashtra Samithi MP Ranjith Reddy joined the Congress in the presence of Telanagana Chief Minister Revanth Reddy and Telangana AICC in-charge Deepa Dasmunsi in Hyderabad on March 17, 2024. Photo: X/@INCTelangana via ANI

Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS), previously known as Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS), is facing the biggest crisis ever in its 23-year existence within four months of being thrown out of power, the party was at the helm of affairs in the newly-formed Telangana State for two consecutive terms.The view is becoming pronounced going by the series of defections of the party leaders to Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) seeking greener pastures and power ahead of elections to Lok Sabha.

Though crises are not new to the party, the present one appears to be toughest of them all as the party leadership struggles hard to swim out of the murky waters to stabilise it by regrouping and reorganising the organisation, sans the handle of Statehood sentiment which helped it overcome the two crises allegedly engineered by the then ruling Congress in the past. This time, both the ruling Congress and BJP are vying with each other in deflating the BRS as much they can before the Parliamentary elections.

Inception of the defections from BRS

Though several BRS MLAs and other senior leaders kept meeting Mr. Reddy and other Congress leaders immediately after the Congress Government assumed office on December 7 last, the migrations have picked up momentum after Telangana Pradesh Congress Committee (TPCC) president and Chief Minister A. Revanth Reddy said that it has lifted the gates to allow the exodus of leaders from the Opposition BRS. Initially, it was the leaders without any posts who started migration into BJP and Congress. Later, the sitting MPs, MLAs and MLCs joined the train.

Nearly four months after losing power in the State, several Zilla Parishad Chairpersons belonging to BRS have shifted their loyalty to the Congress with several urban and rural local bodies too going into the fold of the ruling party. Four sitting MPs – B. Venkatesh Netha, B.B. Patil, P. Ramulu and G. Ranjith Reddy – have switched over to the Congress and BJP, and were renominated by the two parties to contest the Lok Sabha polls.

“Such setbacks are not new to BRS (TRS) in its journey of over two decades. We are a movement party born with single-point agenda to press for Statehood to Telangana. After achieving the Statehood, our focus has been on protecting the interests of Telangana and working for its development, progress and welfare of people. Any day, we are the only party committed to protect the interests of the State as we don’t have any other obligations like the national parties do. Several attempts were made in the past too to decimate BRS, but it has risen like a phoenix every time”, says former MP B. Vinod Kumar, who is considered one of the intellectual faces of the party and now contesting for Karimnagar Lok Sabha seat one more time.


Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) MLA Kadiyam Srihari and his daughter Kadiyam Kavya with All India Congress Committee (AICC) in-charge of party affairs in Telangana Deepa Das Munshi and other leaders in Hyderabad on March 29, 2024.

Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) MLA Kadiyam Srihari and his daughter Kadiyam Kavya with All India Congress Committee (AICC) in-charge of party affairs in Telangana Deepa Das Munshi and other leaders in Hyderabad on March 29, 2024. | Photo Credit: Nagara Gopal

The ignominy for BRS leadership, however, has been refusal of Mr. Ranjith Reddy to contest Lok Sabha election from Chevella even after being asked to begin preparatory work and Ms. Kadiyam Kavya withdrawing from the lok sabha polls after announcement of her candidature by the BRS leadership. Interestingly, Ms. Kavya is being considered as the Congress candidate now from Warangal, the constituency for which she was picked up by BRS initially. While MLA Danam Nagender has already joined Congress and named as the latter’s candidate for Secunderabad Lok Sabha seat, another MLA Kadiyam Srihari and MP K. Keshava Rao are all set to cross the fence.

The exodus of BRS leaders into Congress and BJP is so high that the Congress has three candidates contesting Lok Sabha polls who were with BRS till recently. On the other hand, BJP has seven candidates who deserted BRS after the December 2023 Assembly elections and contesting the Lok Sabha polls now. And, another four who were associated with BRS till not long ago were also named by BJP to contest parliament elections.

Reacting to the desertion of leaders, senior BRS leader and former minister who wields considerable influence over the party ranks, T. Harish Rao, said, “It’s the fall season for BRS but it’s certain that it will be followed by the spring. The old and worn out leaders are leaving the party. Their move allows the party get rejuvenated naturally with new leadership taking shape to carry on the mantle. The party gets strengthened further with the infuse of new blood as it is the order of the nature.”

As if the exodus of leaders out of the party is not enough, the party leadership is also entangled into cases such Delhi liquor policy, irregularities in the execution of irrigation and power projects and illegal phone tapping.

Troubled past

Entering the Assembly as a single-member party represented by its founder president K. Chandrasekhar Rao in 2001, the party could put up a reasonable show in the 2004 elections in alliance with the Congress, which supported the Statehood cause then, and secured 26 out of 42 seats it contested in the 294-member Assembly in erstwhile united Andhra Pradesh and five out of six Lok Sabha seats. However, within two years, its equations turned soar with the Congress on the Statehood issue and the then Congress leadership in the State weaned away 10 of the 26 members of TRS.

Although the TRS rebel MLAs could not merge themselves officially with the Congress due to lack of numbers to avoid disqualification under the anti-defection law provisions, they remained as an independent unit affiliated to the Congress till the 2009 elections. In the 2009 elections, a few of those who shifted loyalty to the Congress after 2004 polls were given tickets by the Congress and were re-elected. The TRS contested the 2009 election in alliance with Telugu Desam Party (TDP)-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). However, it could win only 10 out 45 Assembly and 2 out of 9 Lok Sabha seats it contested.

The crisis is summed up aptly by another BRS leader, who preferred not to be quoted, saying that the smile on the faces of betrayers would not last long as the BRS, as a political organisation, has enough resolve to weather out the present storm and rededicate itself to the commitment of progressive Telangana, which has been realised to a large extent, despite miles to go and a lot left unfinished!

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