Is Congress going back to the old ways where several leaders vie for the post of Chief Minister? If the happenings at the Telangana Congress Legislature Party are any indication, it looks like it is falling back into the old mould, bringing back the bitter memories of the early 1980s when the party had changed four Chief Ministers, making it a cakewalk for the Telugu Desam founder N T Rama Rao to decimate it.
A day after the CLP meeting unanimously adopted a resolution empowering the AICC President Mallikarjun Kharge to decide on the Chief Ministerial candidate, the party failed to take a call. In a day of swift developments, a few senior leaders have strongly objected to the candidature of A Revanth Reddy, the Telangana Pradesh Congress Committee President. They contend how a paratrooper (from the Telugu Desam Party) can become a Chief Minister, leaving the old guard disappointed.
The other top contenders’ Mallu Bhatti Vikamarka, Uttam Kumar Reddy, and Komatireddy Venkata Reddy left the temporary camp where MLAs were asked to stay yesterday afternoon, protesting against the high command’s tilt towards Revanth Reddy.
While Bhatti Vikramarka, a Dalit, conducted a padayatra in the election year after the completion of Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo yatra, Uttam Kumar led the party in the 2018 elections.
The Revanth Reddy camp was in a hurry and even made arrangements for the oath-taking at the Raj Bhavan. The Government machinery, including the police, quickly made arrangements at the Governor’s office for the brief ceremony between 8 and-8.15 p.m.
The high command summoned Congress’ chief troubleshooter and Karnataka Deputy Chief Minister D K Shivakumar to Delhi on Monday evening to end the thaw and select an agreeable candidate for all the factions.
With Revanth’s opponents standing their ground firmly, the high command asked Bhatti Vikrarka and Uttam Kumar to come to Delhi on Tuesday to discuss the issue and work on a patch-up.
Sources in Congress said that a Karnataka-like solution, making Bhatti or (and) Uttam as Deputy Chief Ministers would solve the issue today itself.
Revanth Reddy, who made a lateral entry into the party from the TDP, comes with the baggage of the infamous Cash-for-Vote, where he was caught red-handed offering a bribe to an MLC in 2015. He, along with the TDP President N Chandrababu Naidu, were booked in the 2015 case.
His opponents also point out that the Congress lost in all the seven Assembly constituencies in the parliamentary constituency (Malkajgiri) that Revanth represents, while Uttam and Venkata Reddy helped the party in six out of the seven constituencies in their respective Lok Sabha constituencies.
The Congress won 64 seats in the 119-seat Assembly, pushing the Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS), which ruled the State two times after its formation, to 39 seats. Revanth Reddy is largely credited with the Congress victory, resuscitating life back to the party, losing ground to the Bharatiya Janata Party.
The exodus of leaders and cadre had stopped, and a reverse exodus of leaders from the BRS and BJP had started . He was able to regroup the powerful Reddy community that was feeling lost in the political spectrum in the State. The fact that there are 43 Reddys in the 119-seater House shows how strong this community is politically in the State.