Why Are Telangana BRS, Congress, BJP Leaders Rushing to Delhi?
Key leaders trying to influence Hyderabad narrative from national capital
Hyderabad: What is common to BRS working president and minister K.T. Rama Rao, BJP MLA Etala Rajendar, former MLA Komatireddy Rajgopal Reddy, TPCC president and MP A. Revanth Reddy, former PCC chief and MP N. Uttam Kumar Reddy, and the leaders without a party currently, Ponguleti Srinivas Reddy and Jupally Krishna Rao?
Prima facie, they are all in Delhi, negotiating to influence Telangana politics. Each of them has a mission, and with several threads connecting their trip and a larger purpose, and intertwining, many of them are at cross-purposes.
First, the political twins Srinivas Reddy and Krishna Rao – who have attracted and occupied more media space, attention and narrative during the last few months than perhaps in their entire career – becoming the focal point of state politics.
The two former BRS leaders – one a former MP with considerable clout in the erstwhile Khammam district (spread over 10 Assembly seats), and another a former minister, with influence over several seats of the erstwhile Mahbubnagar district – have quit the pink party and were oscillating over a decision to choose between the two principal Opposition parties before deciding to join the Congress.
While the shifting of political leaders across parties is nothing shocking, the circumstances in which the duo left the BRS and the protracted timeline of the decision, all along in public glare, meant it would have a huge impact on the narrative. While the duo leaving the BRS helped the Opposition amplify growing anti-incumbency against the ruling party, which party they chose would help indicate where the public mood was going towards. They opted, finally, for the Congress.
This, after BJP leaders Rajendar and Rajgopal Reddy, themselves perceived as being unhappy with their own party (which they had joined in varied circumstances not too long ago), failed to convince them to join the BJP. Rajendar and Rajgopal Reddy landed in Delhi after the high command summoned for yet another round of discussions, in which the former MLA reportedly frankly told both party president J.P. Nadda and Union home minister Amit Shah said that their party was fast losing public support.
This was not the first time Rajendar had expressed his dissatisfaction with the party state leadership, arguing that it needed a new state president, a credible CM face and a strong narrative to be able to challenge the KCR government. Rajgopal Reddy also added that the reason the anti-incumbency vote was rapidly shifting to the Congress, away from the BJP, was because of inaction against the corruption of BRS MLC K. Kavitha in the Delhi liquor scam, and a growing unease that the BJP and BRS had entered some clandestine, tacit pact.
The fear that BJP leaders, including these two, were beginning to negotiate to shift to the Congress set off panic in the national BJP. As per reports, Rajendar has won the tactical war – and he would soon be named chairman of the election committee. Would that be enough to stop him from leaving the party? Would he not continue to demand more? Like the state party president post?
A senior leader revealed, “very shortly, Rajendar would be named chief of the state election panel, an unusual post in the party. There is however only a slim chance that the state party president would be changed.”
As the stage is set for Srinivas Reddy and Krishna Rao to meet AICC leader Rahul Gandhi on Monday to formally join the Congress, several leaders landed in the national capital for the programme, including Revanth Reddy, who would see it as a significant triumph, besides TPCC leaders Mahesh Kumar Goud, Shabbir Ali, V. Hanumantha Rao and Eravati Anil.
The two senior BRS leaders would join the Congress along with their key followers, and accept the tricolour kanduwa from Rahul Gandhi. But Revanth Reddy would be hoping for a few more lucky happenings. Firstly, that the BJP continues to waver on the key demands like change of party president or quick action against Kavitha and BRS leaders in corruption cases, which is expected to lead to an exodus of 10 plus more leaders.
Revanth Reddy’s team is still hoping that Rajendar and Rajgopal Reddy will continue to be dissatisfied and join the Congress. That would further propel the narrative that the Congress is the only challenger to the BRS, and that its graph is rising rapidly to achieve an improbable win.
“Besides the formal joining ceremony, we have a political affairs committee meeting on June 27, for which all members of the Telangana unit have been called to Delhi,” said TPCC working president Mahesh Kumar Goud.
But on topmost part of mind of both Revanth Reddy and Rajendar is the sudden trip of minister Rama Rao to Delhi, which officially was to meet Union ministers and seek funds and expedite policy decisions relating to Telangana. Most political observers say that the purpose of the Rama Rao delegation visit to Delhi was not meetings with ministers but a one-on-one with Amit Shah – a meeting that perhaps did not materialise.
Almost simultaneously, the BRS is working hard at trying to have some major Congress leaders defect, to counter the loss of Srinivas Reddy-Krishna Rao. Speculation was mildly mounted that the BRS was trying to target senior leaders from Nalgonda, which had first Congress state incharge Manikrao Thakre rush to Hyderabad and meet K. Jana Reddy and Uttam Kumar Reddy. Both of them strongly denied the rumours, calling them “rubbish… leaks aimed at damaging our reputation.”
After deliberations in Hyderabad, Uttam Kumar Reddy was called to Delhi – for the party high command to ensure its own house was tamperproof. And he may return to Hyderabad with a CWC nomination.