Hyderabad: The Telangana state Congress is all set to celebrate the start of a new phase, with Anumula Revanth Reddy taking charge as president of the Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) in a show-of-strength event at Gandhi Bhavan here on Wednesday.
After a long tenure of over six years and four months, Uttam Kumar Reddy, who replaced Ponnala Lakshmiah in February 2015, will hand over the baton to the 51-year-old Revanth Reddy at a time when the party is facing an existential challenge in the state and across the country.
Revanth Reddy won an intense internal and often bitter battle of wits for the PCC chief post, trumping over potential rivals that included Lok Sabha member from Bhongir, Komatireddy Venkat Reddy, Congress Legislature Party chief Mallu Bhatti Vikramarka, former minister D. Sridhar Babu, and MLC T. Jeevan Reddy, among others.
For now, the party is experiencing a surge of hope, energy and excitement. And it has to thank the bold trust the party high command reposed on a rank outsider and youngest among the contenders for the highest post.
Revanth Reddy, who joined the Congress in October 2017 from the Telugu Desam, won the confidence of the party high command and party affairs in-charge Manickam Tagore in a quick time. He singularly captured the imagination of the state, especially the youth, as a strong voice against Chief Minister K. Chandrashekar Rao. Strangely, Revanth Reddy, who began his career at a young age with the ABVP, was a TRS leader before joining the TD.
Speaking to Deccan Chronicle on the eve of taking over the mantle after meeting his predecessor at his residence, Revanth Reddy said, “We have a huge challenge ahead. Tough battles are lined up. People have high expectations from us and we cannot afford to let them down. A government that betrayed the trust of the people has to be brought down in the next elections.”
Named the next PCC president ten days ago, Revanth Reddy has been meeting party seniors, leaders and the cadre, besides key people and strategic social influencers.
“We need all the support from all sides of society who want the TRS to be defeated,” he said, adding: “We will be bringing all voices and sections together to put up a combined fight. The BJP and TRS are allies pretending to be rivals, but people of Telangana state have seen through the game.”
The immediate challenge will be the Huzurabad byelection and Revanth Reddy is left with little time to prove his mettle in an electoral battle that’s perceived to be a face-off between Etala Rajendar donning the saffron colour and a pick of Chadnrashekar Rao as the TRS candidate.
Uttam Kumar Reddy, a former Indian Air Force officer who was also posted at Rashtrapati Bhavan before joining politics, failed to lead the Congress to victory in the 2018 Assembly elections over the TRS.
Yet, taking charge of the PCC after the Congress failed to win the 2014 Assembly elections following the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh and creation of Telangana state, Uttam Kumar Reddy kept the party relevant in the state.
On his last day as PCC chief, Uttam Kumar Reddy thanked all party leaders, cadre and supporters for their work and effort, often against excruciating odds, to fight for the common people. Speaking to Deccan Chronicle, he said, “It has been an honour to serve the party and keep it strong these years. It has not been the best time in our 135-year-old history as a party but we have always seen our brightest days after the darkest nights.”