Wednesday, January 18, 2023

It is now or never for Congress in Telangana

The Congress leaders in Telangana are talking about ‘saving the party.’ Almost all the noted leaders are engaged in the name of ‘saving the party.’ All of them have been calling the others coverts.

Revanth Reddy, PCC President

There are only a handful of leaders in the Congress today who are not coverts of some party or other. It is a fight between coverts, if one might call them,  on both the sides. Rahul Gandhi raised hopes of Congress unity while he walked in Telangana. The positive vibrations seem to have traveled with him out of the State. The naughty boys are back to their bickering.

Now there are at least two camps. One is headed by the PCC President Revanth Reddy and the other by Bhatti Vikramarka. Both are young leaders with a lot of future. Experienced leaders like Uttam Kumar Reddy, who was PCC president for a long time, Damodar Raja Narsimha, Deputy Chief Minister when Kiran Kumar Reddy was the chief minister till the State was bifurcated, Gita Reddy, good old lady who has been a minister for a long time, Madhu Yashki who is supposed to be close to Rahul Gandhi and others met the other day at Bhatti’s residence to register their disapproval of the committees announced by the AICC. They could have communicated to the party’s national leadership instead of the local media. The party high command has reportedly asked the seniors to travel to Delhi. This will be nth time for them to visit Delhi.

In the meanwhile, the group led by Revanth Reddy has resigned from the committees saying that for them saving the party at this juncture is more important than remaining members of the committees. Position or no position, they are determined to work for the party, they said.  Dozen of them are mostly leaders who joined the Congress from the TDP. Uttam Kumar Reddy had no compunction to do business with the very same TDP during 2018 elections before which Nara Chandrababu Naidu went to Delhi to meet Rahul Gandhi, the then AICC President, to have an electoral understanding.  Same Uttam now questions Revanth’s loyalties. Jeevan Reddy who was present at Bhatti’s residence was with the TDP before joining the Congress. He is, of course, flexible and stands  for unity in the party. Jana Reddy who was among the leaders sitting with Revant Reddy at Gandhi Bhavan during Sunday’s important meeting was the most loved minister in NTR’s cabinet. He handled the maximum number of portfolios in the TDP government before quitting the party, remaining independent for a while, floating a party  before opting to join the Congress. All these are honuorable men. They were all ministers for ten years from 2004 to 2014 thanks to YS Rajasekhar Reddy and Sonia Gandhi.

Once they were out of power, they could not live honourably. Most of them have secret understanding with Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao (KCR) who systematically ruined the party by luring 12 out of 18 MLAs elected on the Congress ticket in 2018. KCR also encouraged the BJP by ignoring the Congress and focusing his attention on the saffron party. With the Munugode bypoll, the BJP has established itself as the main challenger to the ruling TRS in Telangana. The Congress which won the seat in 2018 lost deposit in the by-election despite fielding a good candidate. The growth of the BJP at the cost of the Congress would ultimately harm the TRS in assembly elections.

The Congress’ slide was unstoppable. Nobody, not even party high command, tried to halt it. Appointment of Revanth Reddy was controversial. Party high command should have taken the seniors into confidence before announcing the decision to see to it that all work in harmony. Revanth Reddy  is a dynamic leader who can give a fight to the TRS provided the senior leaders cooperate. He tried to win them over but could not succeed. He has his own issues besides the problems presented by the seniors.  The high command representative Manikkam Tagore has not been very productive either. The Congress observers are traditionally known to line their pockets and indulge in wheeling and dealing. No party in-charge helped it win elections or govern better. The practice has become a necessary evil in a party with centralized leadership vested in one family.

With little time  Gandhi family members have for Telangana and a weak moral fibre, the leaders have been indulging in playing their own games at the cost of the party. Rahul Gandhi knows that most of the party seniors have dubious loyalties. But he is helpless. He cannot send all of them out. He is not convinced if the seniors question Revanth Reddy’s loyalty. Rahul Gandhi is aware that there are many shortcomings with Revanth Reddy but he is sure that at least the PCC President will not have any secret understanding with KCR. Rahul has been repeatedly telling his party men to oppose KCR by all means. He said it at Warangal rally and during his walkathon in Telangana. But he knows his exhortations have little bearing on the senior leaders who enjoy cozy relationship with the powers that be. What do you say about the Congress leaders who handle the TRS with kid gloves and fire only at the BJP?

The seniors and new comers who are out to save the party from each other have no killer instinct. They do not realize that their one-upmanship would ultimately kill their party. If the party has less than 20 percent of votes its leaders will not have respect or even bargaining power. The comforts they are enjoying today will not be there after they lose another election- third in a row and end up as third party in the State. If the TRS loses the forthcoming elections, its friends in the Congress would have miserable time at the hands of the BJP.

In fact, this is the do-or-die moment for the Congress in Telangana. If they cannot win or at least stand second in 2023 elections, they will be wiped out forcing Telangana to join States like UP, Bihar, Tamil Nadu, Delhi, West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh where the party is as good as not there. Lack of self respect and fighting spirit is the real problem faced by the Congress leaders in Telangana.

It is not too late even now to get their act together. Stop extraneous relationships and concentrate on party campaign. Behave like true leaders. No leader is permanent in a party like Congress. Every leader has a scope in his district or sub-region to build the party and work for its electoral success. Once the party gets into office, the differences can be managed better. Those concerned citizens who are alarmed with the rising BJP tide have been wishing the Congress good luck. But alas, the Congress leaders, old and new, are not prepared to fight TRS and BJP. Instead, they are spending their time and energies in quarreling among themselves.

Sonia Gandhi or Kharge or both should take out some time and impress upon the seniors to stop the suicidal fights and concentrate on the fight on hand. They should not mince words and should be prepared to take action to stop the rot. The leaders in Telangana should think less about themselves and more about the people. The Congress party does not have much time. It is less than a year for the party to come back or perish. It is now or never!  

K. Ramachandra Murthy
K. Ramachandra Murthy
Founder & Editor

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