Revanth-Bhatti rift spills over to Dalit Bandhu
DECCAN CHRONICLE | Sriram Karri
Hyderabad: At a time when the ruling TRS is trying to consolidate its political clout ahead of the Huzurabad byelection, and the BJP is working to build a strong support base to emerge as the principal alternative capable of dislodging the ruling party, the Congress is back to its favourite game – serious infighting and one-upmanship between top leaders.
Barely two months since A Revanth Reddy was made president of the Telangana Pradesh Congress Committee (TPCC), all pretended bonhomie has ended. While the new PCC chief and Lok Sabha MP was successful in energising the cadre with a series of Dandoras, the change in leadership did not lead to an alignment of leaders toward a common purpose.
The latest fight erupted and became public after Congress Legislative Party (CLP) leader Mallu Bhatti Vikramarka attended a meeting with Chief Minister K. Chandrashekar Rao and three other MLAs, whose reserved Assembly (Dalit) constituencies had been selected for an extended beta implementation of the Dalit Bandhu scheme.
After scathing media reports appeared, the party scuttlebutt went into overdrive over the comments of Bhatti praising the arch foe, alleging that the CLP leader called Dalit Bandhu "one of the best welfare schemes in the world." He also thanked the chief minister for choosing his and a few other constituencies for the scheme’s implementation.
"At a time when, for the first time in seven years, Congress under the leadership of Revanth Reddy is leading a serious fight against the betrayal, lies, corruption and family rule of KCR, coverts in our own party are singing in praise of the TRS schemes," a leader in the camp of the new PCC chief alleged.
"We launched the fight against the inadequacies and flaws in the politically-motivated scheme of KCR aimed at getting Dalit votes in the Huzurabad byelection on the sacred day of August 9, marking the anniversary of Quit India. The programme has been very successful and has scared the government. But here was our own CLP leader giving the government a clean chit a few days before the visit of our senior national leader Mallikarjun Kharge. How will it appear when he (Kharge) criticises the scheme," she asked.
A rival camp leader refuted the charges strongly. "Ever since Revanth Reddy took charge, instead of taking senior leaders along, he has been trying to defame them and get them to leave the party. He came from outside and is trying to destabilise the political future of those who have committed their entire lives to the party."
Bhatti himself addressed a press meet to refute the "false allegations", which he said were aimed at destroying his reputation and career. "Some people don’t want me to be in the Congress. I was born in this party. It is in my DNA. I can’t help if some people don’t like me and want me out. My life is dedicated to the party and to our senior leaders Madam Sonia Gandhi and former president Rahul Gandhi."
Another leader said Bhatti had taken permission after receiving an invite from the CMO to attend the meet, from the AICC, and had even attended a virtual meeting of MPs and MLAs to explain his reasons for attending the event.
"As a senior leader and one of Telangana’s most-respected Dalit leaders, Bhatti went on to explain the flaws in the programme and sought details like when will all the Dalit families get the benefit, besides demanding its extension to other vulnerable communities, including the tribals, OBCs and minorities," the leader countered.
"It is in the history of national political parties, of leaders becoming coverts for regional parties and weakening those parties. This is the feature of both the Congress and the BJP. KCR, like Chandrababu Naidu, is a master at playing this game. Getting co-opted begets several benefits, political and otherwise," he argued. In this context, he named several leaders of both national parties, whom he dubbed as the "reasons" why the national parties became or remained weak, even as Naidu and Chandrasekhar Rao emerged stronger.
Other leaders blame Revanth Reddy and the party’s national in-charge nominee Manickam Tagore for playing the ‘take no prisoners’ politics. "They want not just to lead the party but to own it completely. This is a classic playing out of the ‘Camel and the Arab’ story," a leader retorted angrily.
However, several leaders backed the duo, saying, "Revanth has the perfect Telangana DNA, a rustic mass leader with a strong role in the separate statehood movement. He does not compromise with his stands and is committed to fighting KCR and leading the Congress party to victory."
Paraphrasing a popular movie dialogue, a leader added, "These incompetent seniors who could not defeat the TRS must realise that the people are looking not for anyone but for someone who has the courage in him to pump the bullet into the enemy’s heart."
While the political war will drag, both TRS and BJP will be happy that the Congress is busy fighting – fighting itself.