Telangana Cong set for revamp ahead of polls

Published on Dec 03, 2022 11:43 PM IST

The Telangana Congress is virtually facing an existential crisis, with the large-scale defection of the leaders and workers into the Telangana Rashtra Samithi and Bharatiya Janata Party in the last few years.

Telangana Congress president A Revanth Reddy with party leader Rahul Gandhi during the Bharat Jodo Yatra.
Telangana Congress president A Revanth Reddy with party leader Rahul Gandhi during the Bharat Jodo Yatra.
By, Hyderabad

Faced with a do-or-die situation, the Telangana Congress led by Malkajgiri parliamentarian A Revanth Reddy is all set to go for a complete overhaul infusing young blood into the party ahead of the next year’s assembly elections in the state.

A senior party leader, privy to the developments in the party, said Revanth Reddy, who met newly appointed All India Congress Committee chief Mallkharjun Kharge in Delhi early this week, presented a blueprint for the party reorganisation, which would go all out to face the assembly elections, scheduled to be held in December next year.

“The PCC chief has proposed a complete revamp of the party with new faces and enthusiastic leaders who are action oriented, replacing those who have been taking their positions for granted and keeping away from the battleground,” said the party leader not wishing to be named.

The Congress is virtually facing an existential crisis, with the large-scale defection of the leaders and workers into the Telangana Rashtra Samithi and Bharatiya Janata Party in the last few years.

The strength of the party in the state assembly has already shrunk from 19 seats in December 2018 to five with the defection of 12 MLAs into the TRS and another MLA – Komatireddy Rajagopal Reddy from Munugode -- into the BJP, while it lost another seat in the by-election to Huzurabad assembly seat in 2020.

Following the recent debacle in the by-elections to Munugode assembly seat in which it lost its deposit, the Congress has virtually conceded its second position to the BJP which is emerging as a potential alternative to the TRS in the run-up to the next year’s assembly elections.

Revanth Reddy, who took over as the new PCC chief in July 2021, has been finding it tough to handle senior leaders in the party who have been creating troubles for him right from the day one, instead of cooperating with him in strengthening the party.

There were too many aspirants for the PCC chief post – including Bhongir MP Komatireddy Venkat Reddy, Sangareddy MLA T Jayaprakash Reddy, former minister Marri Shashidhar Reddy, senior OBC leader V Hanumantha Rao and former PCC chief Ponnala Lakshmaiah.

Many of them were not able to digest the fact that Revanth Reddy, who defected from Telugu Desam Party into the Congress months before the December 2018 elections, could become the PCC chief.

They lodged complaints to the high command stating that he was taking unilateral decisions without consulting the seniors and was not informing the local leaders while visiting the districts. Yet, the high command reposed faith in Revanth Reddy, since he is younger and a massive crowd-puller with his aggressive speeches, compared to these seniors.

However, the poor show put up by the Congress in the by-elections to Huzurabad and Munugode assembly seats caused a dent to Revanth Reddy’s popular image, leading to the talk in the party that he is not a match-winner.

“It was just a hype created by a group of people that Revanth Reddy will turn around the fortunes of the party. He has insulted the senior leaders who had worked for years, describing them as home guards. He is a miserable failure,” said former minister Marri Shashidhar Reddy, who quit the party and defected to the BJP in the last week of November.

Bhongir MP Venkat Reddy, who was appointed as the star campaigner of the TPCC, stayed away from the campaign in Munugode, as his brother Rajagopal Reddy contested in the by-poll on the BJP ticket. He was served a show-cause notice by the party and is expected to quit the party sooner than later.

Revanth Reddy, however, said the majority of the party leaders are supporting his leadership. “Those who are leaving the party are the ones who had their eyes on the PCC chief post. Their exit won’t make much difference to the party,” he said, in an interview to a vernacular daily.

During his recent visit to Delhi, the PCC chief proposed to the new AICC chief a complete overhaul of the party – right from appointing new working presidents to revitalising the campaign committee.

“Seniors like Congress Legislature Party leader Mallu Bhatti Vikramarka, former TPCC chief N Uttam Kumar Reddy and AICC secretary D Sridhar Babu also took part in the discussions. The PCC chief prefers a young team, who can do a lot of groundwork, instead of those who are confined to addressing press conferences at Gandhi Bhavan, the party headquarters in Hyderabad,” the party leader quoted above said.

Revanth is working out a comprehensive strategy in coordination with party’s political strategist Sunil Kanugolu. “Hereafter, the party activity will be completely on ground, in the form of padayatras, street corner meetings, public meetings and extensive social media campaign,” the leader said.

Political analyst Sriram Karri said it would be foolhardy to dismiss the Congress prospects in the next assembly elections, though it has currently lost out on the narrative, which is about a weakening TRS versus a growing BJP.

“The Congress has the organisational strength, grassroots presence, support blocks, and local leadership. A revamp might help the TPCC find its mojo but they have to take tough decisions, and quickly,” Karri added.

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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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