STATE OF PLAY Comment

Chinks in Telangana Congress armour

Komatireddy brothers Rajagopal Reddy and Venkata Reddy. File

Komatireddy brothers Rajagopal Reddy and Venkata Reddy. File | Photo Credit: The Hindu

The lack of unity in the party, the alleged autocratic functioning of the State party president, and dissidence are all shaking the Telangana Congress boat, which had been sailing smoothly until a a month ago despite a few hiccups.

After two successive defeats in the Assembly elections of 2014 and 2018, the party has been gearing up for the next battle: the general election of 2024. The Congress has been accusing the K. Chandrasekhar Rao family of indulging in corruption in the prestigious Kaleshwaram project ever since Mr. Revanth Reddy took over. The huge debt of the State, which is to the tune of nearly ₹3 lakh crore, has also been a major weapon of the party against the TRS. Telangana Pradesh Congress Committee president A. Revanth Reddy has been countering the government’s claims with eloquence. All these seemed to be good signs for the party.

However, the resignation of Munugode MLA Komatireddy Raj Gopal Reddy began to rock the boat. Following his resignation and attack of Mr. Revanth Reddy, leaders such as Dasoju Shravan also quit the party accusing Mr. Revanth Reddy of not respecting the backward classes or the idea of social justice and joined the BJP. Mr. Raj Gopal Reddy’s resignation will lead to a bypoll within in a few months if the Assembly Speaker accepts his resignation when it is tendered.

Mr. Raj Gopal Reddy’s loss is not just that of a mere individual. His elder brother and sitting MP from Bhongir, Komatireddy Venkata Reddy, who, along with Mr. Raj Gopal Reddy, met BJP leader Amit Shah a few days ago, can influence voters in five or six constituencies. If Mr. Venkata Reddy also joins the BJP, which seems unlikely now despite his meeting with Mr. Shah, or decides to support his brother, the perception battle will weigh in favour of the BJP, at least in the bypoll. Mr. Venkata Reddy too hit out at Mr. Revanth Reddy for reportedly dragging him into the resignation issue of his brother. The brothers wield considerable influence in Nalgonda district, which has been a Congress bastion for several decades.

Days after Mr. Raj Gopal Reddy announced his resignation from the party and the Assembly, Congress leaders put up a show of strength by holding a public meeting to instill confidence among the cadres. Pleased by the turnout, the party now hopes to undo the damage by roping in two party stalwarts from Nalgonda district — N. Uttam Kumar Reddy and K. Jana Reddy. Meanwhile, the TRS is waiting to grab the seat, especially since it lost two out of the four bypolls to the rising BJP.

The episode exposes chinks in the Congress’s armour. The lack of unity in the party and the low confidence of senior leaders in Mr. Revanth Reddy is likely to prove costly. A relatively a new entrant into the Congress, Mr. Revanth Reddy has not been able to gain the confidence of seniors like Bhatti Vikramarka, D. Sreedhar Babu, T. Jayaprakash Reddy and the three influential Reddys from Nalgonda.

The winner of this bypoll will definitely emerge more confident. If the Congress wins, it will heave a sigh of relief. There will be pressure on Mr. Revanth Reddy to secure the seat for the party. If the TRS wins, it will gain some confidence as both the Congress and BJP are locked in a serious battle to emerge as the main challenger to the regional party. The TRS is keen to demolish the perception that the BJP is strong in Telangana. And if the BJP wins, it will be chuffed as it has been making strides in the State despite having no historical roots. Mr. Raj Gopal Reddy’s political future too is at stake.

ravikanth.ramasayam@thehindu.co.in


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Printable version | Aug 15, 2022 2:27:35 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/op-ed/chinks-in-telangana-congress-armour/article65742708.ece