BRS leaders jump ship, make a beeline to join Congress | Latest News India - Hindustan Times

BRS leaders jump ship, make a beeline to join Congress

Apr 02, 2024 11:53 PM IST

Party candidates, sitting MPs, MLAs and other core leaders don’t want to stay in party, blame lack of proper organisational structure

After Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) lawmaker and party president K Chandrasekhar Rao’s daughter Kalvakuntla Kavitha was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate authorities on March 15 in connection with Delhi liquor scam, veteran BRS secretary general and Rajya Sabha member Kancherla Kesava Rao, better known as KK, was among the first few party leaders to reach her house and speak out vehemently against her arrest.

Former Telangana chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao (ANI) PREMIUM
Former Telangana chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao (ANI)

In less than two weeks, on March 28 to be precise, 84-year-old Kesava Rao called it quits on the party and announced “ghar wapsi” to the Congress, along with his daughter Gadwal Vijayalakshmi, the present mayor of Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC).

“I had a long association of over 53 years with the Congress and I joined the BRS (then Telangana Rashtra Samithi) in 2013 only to be part of the Telangana development. Those who go on a pilgrimage would have to return to their respective homes. So, I am also coming back to my own house, the Congress,” he said.

Kesava Rao, who was made a Rajya Sabha member twice during the BRS regime, had been one of the main pillars of the BRS since the formation of Telangana state in 2014. He was a core member of the BRS think tank and played a major role in drafting the party’s election manifesto.

“What injustice has the BRS done to Kesava Rao? He has enjoyed all the positions in the party. KCR made him the secretary general of the BRS and also the parliamentary party leader. It is unfortunate that he chose to quit the party that gave him so much importance,” said senior BRS leader and KCR’s nephew T Harish Rao.

The veteran leader has no answer. All that he said was that he wanted to return to his parent party. “I am at the fag-end of my political career and I want to die as a Congress man,” he told reporters.

KCR was soon to receive another jolt. BRS candidate for Warangal (SC) Lok Sabha constituency Dr Kadiyam Kavya, daughter of sitting BRS MLA and former deputy chief minister Kadiyam Srihari, dashed off a letter to KCR saying she was pulling out of the contest.

The handwritten letter revealed that she was upset with the latest scandals that were rocking the party. “Allegations of corruption, encroachments, and phone tapping and liquor scams have damaged the party’s image,” she said, adding that lack of coordination and cooperation among BRS leaders in the district caused more damage to the party.

Earlier this week, both Srihari and Kavya formally joined the Congress in the presence of AICC in-charge of Telangana affairs Deepa Das Munshi and chief minister A Revanth Reddy. “Many leaders are quitting the BRS for various reasons. I have come out as there is no democratic space in the party. Moreover, I don’t want my daughter to lose the Warangal seat by contesting on the BRS ticket,” he said.

According to a PCC leader, Kavya’s name will be finalised as the Congress candidate for the same Warangal Lok Sabha seat.

Kavya is not the only BRS candidate who quit the party after getting the party ticket. On March 17, sitting MP from Chevella G Ranjith Reddy also quit the BRS. He joined the Congress together with sitting MLA from Khairatabad Danam Nagender; four days later, Ranjith Reddy was given the Congress ticket for Chevella and Nagender was announced as the Congress candidate for Secunderabad.

A few hours before Ranjith Reddy quit the BRS, another sitting Lok Sabha member Pasunuri Dayakar from Warangal resigned from BRS and joined the Congress.

Earlier in February and the start of March, three sitting Lok Sabha MPs quit the BRS — B Venkatesh Netha from Peddapalli, Pothuganti Ramulu from Nagarkurnool and B B Patil from Zaheerabad. While Netha joined the Congress, Ramulu and Patil joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

Senior leaders leave

Thus, out of nine MPs who were elected on BRS tickets in the 2019 general elections, five are no longer with the party. Of the remaining four, one MP — Kotha Prabhakar Reddy from Medak resigned from his seat and won as an MLA from Dubbak assembly constituency in the November 30 assembly elections. The remaining three MPs — Manne Srinivas Reddy from Mahabubnagar, Maloth Kavitha from Mahabubabad and Nama Nageshwar Rao from Khammam — have been retained for the 2024 elections.

The exodus isn’t just restricted to sitting MPs and MP candidates, quite a few MLAs from the BRS are also ready to jump ship and join the Congress. Kadiyam Srihari, the legislator of Station Ghanpur seat joined the Congress on March 31; many other MLAs have already got in touch with the grand old party, a Congress leader familiar with the developments, said.

Some of them, including Malkajgiri MLA Malla Reddy, Kotha Prabhakar Reddy from Dubbak, Sunitha Laxma Reddy from Narsapur, G Mahipal Reddy from Patancheru, K Manik Rao from Zaheerabad, Tellam Venkat Rao from Bhadrachalam, Prakash Goud from Rajendra Nagar and Kale Yadaiah from Chevella have already met the CM over the last two months in the name of discussing constituency issues.

“It is quite common that dried-up leaves of a tree fall down during the winter. But new leaves sprout during the spring and the tree will regain its life within no time. The BRS, too, will regain its strength,” Harish Rao said.

The latest developments have certainly demoralised the BRS, which was already beleaguered by the humiliating defeat in the assembly elections in Telangana held on November 30. The party won just 39 seats in the 119-member state assembly, with the Congress coming to power by winning 64 seats.

Congress reaps the benefits

PCC president and chief minister A Revanth Reddy knows that this figure of 64 is razor thin, just four seats more than the absolute majority mark. Having seen how the politics of neighbouring Maharashtra had turned in the last two years — the BJP, which managed to split the Congress, the Nationalist Congress Party and Shiv Sena, formed the new government — the recently appointed chief minister from the Congress party doesn’t want to take any chances.

He is aware that the BJP is capable of engineering a coup against him by forcing a split in the Telangana Congress, too, by wooing a few MLAs and with the help of the BRS, which has 39 MLAs and the BJP eight MLAs.

Lending credence to his apprehensions, the BJP leaders like parliamentary board member and Rajya Sabha MP Dr K Laxman, have been making statements that the Revanth Reddy government would not last more than six months. “Laxman (BJP MP) says the Congress government will not be there after the Lok Sabha polls. The BJP has only eight MLAs. How can it form the government with eight MLAs? That means BRS and BJP are unitedly conspiring to topple the government," Revanth Reddy said at a public rally at Manuguru recently.

Reddy has chosen to lure as many MLAs as possible from the BRS, a strategy which KCR had adopted in 2014 and 2019. In the 2014 assembly elections, the BRS (then TRS) won only 63 MLAs, just three more than the absolute majority mark. KCR indulged in massive poaching of MLAs from other parties — 12 from TDP, five from the Congress, three from the YSRCP, two from BSP and one from CPI — in the name of “realignment of pro-Telangana forces.” In 2019, too, the BRS chief poached 12 out of 19 Congress MLAs, two TDP MLAs and an independent.

“Revanth Reddy, too, wants to increase his party’s tally in the assembly by poaching as many MLAs from BRS as possible. There is no surprise, if he lures two-thirds of the MLAs into the Congress,” said Mohammad Zakir, a senior Telugu journalist, who played an important role in the Telangana movement.

According to Zakir, one of the main reasons for the sorry state of affairs in the BRS at present is that it was, and still is, a family-centric party without any proper organisational structure at the grassroots level.

When the Congress government has started digging out scams that allegedly took place during the BRS regime — whether it was irregularities in Kaleshwaram project construction, land encroachments, sand mafia, Dharani portal scam, Dalit Bandhu scam, telephone tapping, among others — these leaders have quickly distanced themselves from the party.

“The fault lies with KCR, who kept genuine Telangana activists and leaders at bay and encouraged these self-centric leaders. The moment the BRS lost power to the Congress, they are deserting the party one after the other. Even those who are left with the BRS now also do not have any love lost for KCR. After Lok Sabha elections, they too will not hesitate to jump the fence,” Zakir said.

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    Srinivasa Rao is Senior Assistant Editor based out of Hyderabad covering developments in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana . He has over three decades of reporting experience.

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