Power to the people: On Telangana as a potentially rewarding challenge for the Congress

The Congress has an opportunity to demonstrate its governance model in Telangana 

December 07, 2023 12:20 am | Updated 10:10 am IST

Anumula Revanth Reddy has traversed a long political distance to emerge as the Congress Chief Minister of India’s youngest State, Telangana. Not restrained by ideological harnesses, fired up by burning ambition, and endowed with the capacity to work hard, Mr. Reddy and the Congress turned out to be a perfect fit for each other. Leaving behind his many past lives, including in the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh-affiliated Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad and the Telugu Desam Party, he arrived in the Congress, in 2017. His rise within the party has been as impressive as the rise of the Congress itself, and perhaps both are linked. The threat that Mr. Reddy posed to his chair was sensed early on by the outgoing Chief Minister K. Chandrashekar Rao (KCR), which partly explains how he landed up on the wrong side of the law in a sensational bribe for vote case. But nothing would break the momentum of Mr. Reddy. His relentless campaign against KCR endeared him to an expanding segment of voters who thought many in the Opposition camp were not being true to their roles. Mr. Reddy developed a good rapport with the central leadership of the Congress, and galvanised enough momentum for the party that other leaders had no option but to fall in line with him.

Having climbed the peak, fresh challenges begin for Mr. Reddy and the Congress. Congress leader Rahul Gandhi has placed caste justice as a motif of his politics, and the party victory in Telangana is indeed built on a multi-caste, multi-religious social coalition. Congress leaders who have stayed with the party through bad times could justifiably feel aggrieved that a later entrant has come on top when the party won power. Of particular note is Mallu Bhatti Vikramarka, who was Congress Legislature Party leader in the outgoing Assembly. A Dalit, who walked across the State in a successful mobilisation for the party, he has to be accommodated respectfully if the Congress wants to make its social justice plank meaningful and trusted by the masses. The party has 64 MLAs but only 17 can become Ministers besides the Chief Minister. The new government has to keep itself stable with the slim majority it has in the 119 strong Assembly. Considering all these factors, the Congress has made it clear that its Telangana government would not be a ‘one man show’. The Congress has also promised to further embellish the array of welfare schemes in the State. The party’s governance and political management in Telangana will also have a ripple effect in other States, particularly in Andhra Pradesh. Telangana presents a potentially rewarding challenge for Mr. Reddy and the Congress.

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