Only a group of five to six junior MLAs have been countering opposition criticism each day, while most ministers and senior leaders are shying away from the line of fire. (DC File Image)
Hyderabad: With the two-flanked onslaught of rival Opposition parties — the Congress and the BJP — increasingly finding greater resonance and public response, the TRS leadership has been forced to recalibrate its political strategy.
Party sources said that the TRS leadership never took "political strategizing" seriously after the party first came to power in 2014, as there was no strong opposition or an opposition leader in Telangana who could match the popularity and aggressiveness of TRS supremo K. Chandrashekar Rao. Except during elections, there was literally no serious opposition activity in the state, due to which, TRS has been enjoying a cakewalk from May 2014.
But the situation has metamorphosed with not one but two firebrand leaders — A. Revanth Reddy and Bandi Sanjay — taking over reins of the Congress and BJP respectively, rapidly capturing public imagination and rising in the acceptability ladder.
The TRS has been pushed to acknowledge that the time has come for its top brass to devise an effective political strategy to check the rise of the Congress and the BJP, at least until the next Assembly polls slated for December 2023, they concede.
Both leaders – Revanth Reddy and Bandi Sanjay – have started reaching out to people by holding programmes, protest rallies, demonstrations, public meetings, padayatras and regularly and consistently criticising the TRS government and more, using the same linguistic tactics of the TRS supremo, attacking and removing the halo around him and TRS working president K.T. Rama Rao.
The duo has stirred the pot of public discussion and is quickly steering the narrative away from the ruling party, and in the heated-up political atmosphere in Telangana, the pink party is finding its cadre morale sagging, even though Assembly polls are over 26 months away.
With no clear proper political strategy or communications matrix, utter confusion is prevailing amongst the TRS rank and file on even a primal question as who is their principal rival – the Congress or the BJP.
There is also confusion on who should respond to various issues raised by the opposition parties. Only a group of five to six junior MLAs have been countering opposition criticism each day, while most ministers and senior leaders are shying away from the line of fire.
The TRS leadership has recognised the urgent need for drafting an effective political strategy to counter the Congress and BJP, sources revealed. The sense of urgency got heightened into anxiety after the grand success of Revanth Reddy’s Dandora rallies, especially the last one, which was held in Chief Minister Chandrashekar Rao’s home turf, Gajwel, even as Sanjay’s padayatra is continuing to evoke an ever-increasing positive response from people.
"Chief Minister KCR is very unhappy over the way the TRS has so far responded to Revanth’s Dandora rallies and the White Challenge narrative," a leader said.
TRS leaders confessed that instead of "fixing" Revanth on these issues, the TRS made him a ‘hero’ unnecessarily at the Congress high-command level, with their hasty acts and lack of direction from party leadership.
"A TRS MLA wrote to Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, complaining against Revanth. KTR complained to Rahul Gandhi through Twitter about Revanth making unsavoury comments on Shashi Tharoor, when none of the state Congress leaders bothered to react," he said.
"We were publicly acknowledging that Revanth was becoming a threat and worse, we are helpless and need Rahul Gandhi’s help in controlling Revanth. These moves by the TRS have made Revanth stronger with the Congress high command," sources opined. "Are we school students that we go to complain to the principal?"
Sources also said that it was on Chandrashekar Rao’s instructions that Rama Rao and other leaders took to strongly responding to all criticism but they did in a manner that benefitted Revanth Reddy more and did damage to TRS due to lack of strategy. There was also confusion on the tone and tenor to be deployed against the two leaders.
In Telangana’s political history, it was Chandrashekar Rao who started using unparliamentary and vituperative language against Opposition leaders, albeit with rich Telangana dialect and culture folklore connect, and a subaltern touch – a template both Revanth Reddy and Sanjay copied – and the plot took a complete turn.
After TRS minister CH Malla Reddy’s outburst and backlash, Chandrashekar Rao mellowed down but after a few days Rama Rao changed his strategy and wanted party leaders to use the same language against the Opposition. However, his threat to invoke sedition charges, seeking legal umbrage and buckling away on a la Caesar's wife challenge , have all left an impression in the public of the TRS losing the plot.