Congress inducts disgruntled BJP, BRS leaders into party; banks on ‘Reddy factor’

Sonia Gandhi, former president of Congress, will announce the six guarantees at the mega public gathering named Vijayabheri, at Thukkuguda in Rangareddy

By Bhaskar Basava  Published on  16 Sep 2023 2:39 PM GMT
Congress inducts disgruntled BJP, BRS leaders into party; banks on ‘Reddy factor’

Hyderabad: The Congress Working Committee (CWC) began its two-day mega event in Hyderabad with many prominent Congress leaders convening in the city on Saturday, setting the stage for the historic CWC meeting — the first since the formation of the I.N.D.I.A alliance block.

During the meeting, the leaders discussed a number of issues including election strategies for the five poll-bound states, the ‘One Nation - One Election’ proposal, and seat allocation within the INDIA alliance. The event also marked Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge’s debut as the leader of the CWC meeting, his first since his appointment in October last year.

Congress leaders from across the nation travelled to Hyderabad, keeping in mind Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Telangana, and Mizoram which would face polls in 2023. What made this meeting even more noteworthy was its departure from its usual Delhi venue.

Against this backdrop, Telangana Congress leaders devised plans to unveil a set of six guarantees as a key election promise. On September 17 (Sunday), Sonia Gandhi, former president of Congress, will announce the six guarantees at the mega public gathering named Vijayabheri, at Thukkuguda in Rangareddy.

Following chief minister K Chandrashekar Rao’s announcement of the BRS list of candidates in the 115 Telangana Assembly constituencies, Telangana Congress invited applications for candidates and received 1,016 applications. The final list, however, remains pending. But Telangana Congress is poised to unite the disgruntled leaders from both BRS and BJP.

TS Congress trying to accommodate new joiners

The event saw leaders from other parties come into the Congress fold. Jitta Balakrishna Reddy, a former BJP leader, was formally inducted into the party on Saturday, in the presence of MP and star campaigner Komatireddy Venkat Reddy.

Jitta Balakrishna Reddy was suspended by the BJP in July for his anti-party stance. He openly criticised the national BJP leadership’s decision to replace Bandi Sanjay Kumar as party president. Balakrishna Reddy had merged his Yuva Telangana Party with BJP last year, hoping to further his aspirations that fuelled the Telangana statehood movement. However, he has now switched his allegiance to Congress.

Reports suggest Balakrishna Reddy aspires to contest from the Bhongir constituency and try his luck for the fourth time.

Earlier, internal conflicts with Komatireddy resulted in party leader Kumbam Anil Kumar Reddy quitting Congress to join BRS. This has opened doors for many aspirants, making it uncertain if Jitta Balakrishna Reddy will secure the Bhongir ticket, given that his contenders include Anjaneyulu Goud, Pothnak Pramodh Kumar, Pachimatla Shivaraj Goud, and Tangelapalli Ravi Kumar.

Similarly, on Friday, former minister Thummala Nageshwar Rao officially left the BRS, following a meeting with the AICC in-charge for Telangana, Manikrao Thakre and TPCC president Revanth Reddy at the latter’s residence in Hyderabad.

Thummala Nageshwar Rao, who was elected on a BRS ticket from Palair in the 2016 bypoll was defeated by Kandla Upender Reddy in 2018. The BRS has now fielded Upender Reddy, who initially won on a Congress ticket in 2018 but later switched sides.

The former minister was displeased with BRS after being denied a ticket from Palair for the upcoming Assembly elections. A month ago, TPCC president Revanth Reddy invited Nageshwar Rao to join the Congress party. However, Ponguleti Srinivas Reddy, who had previously switched from BRS to Congress, has also applied for the Palair ticket now sought after by Tummala.

Sources from Congress suggest that the party is actively working towards finding a resolution to reconcile these positions. Additionally, it has been said that more members will be joining the party within the next month.

‘With BJP losing charm, Congress has become a favourable destination'

Former journalist and political analyst, Telakapalli Ravi, speaking to The NewsMeter, said that the Congress is organising the meeting outside Delhi, especially in Telangana, because the party envisions significant prospects here following its win in the neighbouring state, Karnataka. Additionally, it aims to provide a morale boost to the Telangana cadre, given that the BJP is also touring its leaders in the state.

Explaining the recent incidents of many leaders joining Telangana Congress, he said that the Congress is perceived as a favourable destination for disgruntled leaders, as the opponent BJP has lost its appeal after the leadership transition from Bandi Sanjay to Kishan Reddy.

The decline in appeal has facilitated the influx of leaders from both parties, BRS and BJP, he said. “The Reddy factor also appears to be influential, with Revanth Reddy consolidating them, whereas Kishan Reddy, despite belonging to the same community, lacks this advantage due to his last-minute appointment,” he said.

Also, the Congress has retained the Reddy base for a long time, unlike the BJP. Moreover, the rumours of YS Sharmila, founder and president of the YSR Telangana Party, potentially joining the party have further strengthened the Reddy camp in the state. He said the ‘YSR factor’ is still strong among the Reddy community leaders in the state, keeping aside the Andhra-Telangana debate.

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