Hyderabad: The Telangana Pradesh Congress Committee, though a divided house on the future course of action against Munugode MLA Komatireddy Rajagopal Reddy, for the time being, appealed to the dissident MLA to continue in the party in the larger interest of the people of Telangana.
"He also promised to think about (continuing in the party) it," said Congress Legislature Party leader Mallu Bhatti Vikramarka in New Delhi after meeting party in-charge Manickam Tagore.
PCC president A. Revanth Reddy and his predecessor and MP N. Uttam Kumar Reddy were also present.
Party sources said Bhatti and Uttam insisted on continuing efforts to pacify Rajgopal Reddy and somehow retain him in the party as it cannot afford to lose the Komatireddy brothers. It will lead to BJP making inroads into southern Telangana, particularly in Nalgonda and Khammam districts, the two leaders argued, while Revanth remained silent.
A section of leaders, however, argued that Rajgopal Reddy would anyway leave the party shortly despite best efforts to retain him, and urged action before damaging the party and exposing its weakness.
Sources said party leaders had also been seriously considering suspending Rajagopal Reddy, a move that would ensure a win-win situation for all those looking at avoiding the bypoll — Congress, Telangana Rashtra Samiti and Rajagopal Reddy himself.
Once suspended, the MLA escapes the anti-defection law and can directly associate with the BJP while sticking to his post. Congress, by avoiding a bypoll, can avoid a Huzurabad-like situation and the TRS, despite its brave posture, will be happy to avoid the bypoll risk in the run-up to the next general elections.
However, sources in the BJP told Deccan Chronicle that the Central leadership, Amit Shah in particular, was keen on forcing a bypoll to not only consolidate the party in southern Telangana but send a message to the TRS of being its biggest challenger in the next Assembly polls. "We will insist on his resignation," a senior BJP leader said.
Rajagopal Reddy had put the Congress in an embarrassing situation and exposed its weakness in taking action against leaders who openly criticise the party and its leaders. Unlike other dissidents, Rajagopal Reddy did not stop with criticising Revanth Reddy, but dragged the party and its first family.
"It is such a tricky situation that we can’t keep him anymore because he described Sonia and Rahul’s leadership as ineffective," a senior Congress leader said, adding that Rajgopal Reddy was certain to make party-bashing a daily affair.
"At the same time, we can’t invite a repeat of Huzurabad (incident)," the Congress leader said.
Chief Minister K. Chandrashekar Rao, who, party leaders say is yet to recover from the Huzurabad effect, was aware that another bypoll and another defeat would badly hit the party.
Anticipating a bypoll, the Chief Minister already got into poll mode and has pressed the party machinery under the leadership of energy minister Jagadish Reddy.