Why Telangana Congress is jubilant over BRS candidates list
Telangana Pradesh Congress Committee President A Revanth Reddy has said the party will fight the assembly election with social justice as the plank. Image shows Reddy (centre) with AICC President Mallikarjun Kharge (right). Twitter/@revanth_anumula

Why Telangana Congress is jubilant over BRS candidates list

Congress thinks BJP’s virtual withdrawal from state, and anti-incumbency against BRS, will work in its favour

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An unusual feel-good factor is visible within the Congress in Telangana while trouble is brewing within the BRS after it named candidates for the Assembly elections scheduled for December.

The list, which Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao (KCR) made public at 2.38 pm — a supposedly auspicious moment in the Hindu month of Shravan — on August 21 has triggered a wave of rebellion in many constituencies.

The 115-candidate list has displeased BRS leaders in more than one way. Those who joined it from other parties hoping to be fielded in the 2023 elections feel let down. Many leaders who lost in 2018 are unhappy because Congress MLAs who defected to the BRS have been given priority.

In many constituencies, the party's loyal aspirants, who waited for a decade for a chance to contest the election, were peeved as they were ignored. All these leaders consider the future to be bleak as they now have to wait for another five years.

Wave of discontent

Denied a ticket, Ajmeera Rekha Naik, a two-term BRS MLA from Khanapur, joined the Congress within 24 hours. Followers of sitting MLA Ch Madan Reddy staged a noisy protest in front of finance and health minister T Harish Rao’s residence in Hyderabad. Reddy’s candidature has been kept pending from the Narsapur constituency, an indication he is likely to be replaced. An influential leader, Tummala Nageswara Rao, was shocked that Congress MLA K Upender Reddy who defeated him in 2018 was re-nominated.

Kodad BRS leader V Chander Rao issued an ultimatum to the party to change the candidate, B Mallaiah, a sitting MLA; he has threatened to quit otherwise. Another MLA who has revolted is Mynapalli Hanumantha Rao from Malkajgiri.

The Congress is upbeat over the prospects of many of these leaders joining the party. It is wooing Tummala. Former union minister Renuka Chowdary has said that Congress doors were wide open for him. Similarly, former MLA Vemula Veeresam has turned a rebel after his hopes to get the Nakrekal ticket dashed. Speculation is rife that Veeresham is in touch with the Congress.

T Santhosh Kumar, a former MLC from Karimnagar, resigned from the party a day after the list was issued complaining that he did not get due recognition. He is also said to be favoring the Congress. Another former MLA who is disillusioned is Sita Dayakar Reddy from Mahabubnagar district. Congress sources claim she has agreed to join the party.

Congress gung-ho

The Telangana Congress is expecting a flood of migration from the BRS. Party sources claim there would be no dearth of candidates this time unlike in 2018 when KCR’s early list with almost all sitting members gave the Congress the jitters. Then, the Congress found it difficult to persuade its leaders to even file nominations in the backdrop of the undiluted Telangana sentiment, financial resources of BRS (then TRS) MLAs and KCR’s welfare schemes.

While KCR has demonstrated confidence in winning the election a third time by re-nominating almost all sitting MLAs with little regard to the anti-incumbency factor, the Congress definitely is not in a bad shape in 2023. The buoyancy in the Congress is also visibly pronounced after the win in Karnataka.

The BRS list had failed to become a source of anxiety for the Congress, said Dr Mallu Ravi, the Telangana Congress senior vice-president.

“Instead, it is a blessing in disguise. The list has strengthened the Congress in three ways. One: It has proven that chief minister KCR and BRS are anti-BC, otherwise how would he allot just 23 seats for communities that make up 56 percent of the population? The list has made the Congress a champion of social justice. Two, KCR has severed ties with the Left parties, after using their votes in the Munugode by-election, at the behest of the BJP.

He added: “It is clearly a message not only to the Left parties but also to Muslims. They have no option but to support the Congress against the BRS and BJP. Third, Because of the list, even BJP leaders are thinking that Congress alone can defeat the BRS,” Mallu said. He said the BRS would get further hit in the coming days following more rebellion in the party.

Social justice

Meanwhile, BJP leader and five-time MLA A Chandrasekhar joined the Congress on Wednesday. Talking to the media, he said neither the BRS nor BJP were for social justice.

Similarly, many BC castes are mobilizing their members against the BRS. The numerically strong Mudiraj caste which found no representation in the BRS list has issued a call to vote against the ruling party. Yadava and Kurumas have also announced a programme against the BRS. PCC president A Revanth Reddy said the Congress would fight the election with social justice as the plank.

“BCs account for more than 50 per cent of the population but only three BCs were made ministers. There were no Madigas in the cabinet. Now Mudiraj caste members have been denied ticket. The Congress will stand by them,” said Revanth.

The Congress leadership thinks the two recent developments — BJP’s virtual withdrawal from the state and anti-incumbency against the BRS MLAs — would work in favour of the party in the December elections. If that happens, the Congress feels it will return to power in a state which it helped form but where it got elbowed out by the TRS-turned-BRS.

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