Congress mounts a battle for Parade Grounds, but may have to shift its 18 September rally to Hyderabad’s outskirts

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BySouth First Desk

Published Sep 07, 2023 | 8:53 AMUpdated Sep 07, 2023 | 4:20 PM

Congress mounts a battle for Parade Grounds, but may have to shift its 18 September rally to Hyderabad’s outskirts

For the Congress, capturing power in Telangana can wait. It is now more preoccupied with its battle to capture the Parade Grounds in Secunderabad. It seems a battle it is set to lose.

The party has decided to hold a major public meeting on 17 September at the Parade Grounds, coinciding with the “merger of Hyderabad state” into the Union of India in 1948, one year after India attained independence.

The day will also mark the end of an extended, two-day meeting of the Congress Working Committee (CWC) — the party’s highest decision-making body — where senior Congress leader Sonia Gandhi will unveil five goodies for Telangana, euphemistically called guarantees, ahead of the Assembly elections.

The party seemingly wants to replicate in Telangana the successful “guarantees card” that it played in neighbouring Karnataka to vanquish the BJP and ride to power in May.

Even as the Congress leaders visited the Parade Grounds, which comes under the administrative control of the Defence Ministry, the BJP seemed determined to play spoilsport to the grand old party’s plans to attract “10 lakh people” to its “massive public meeting”.

Union Minister G Kishan Reddy, who is also president of the BJP’s state unit, coolly announced that the Telangana Liberation Day — as the BJP chooses to call the anniversary — would be held at Parade Grounds.

Hyderabad, 17 September: What was the day called in 1948, and when did ‘liberation’ enter the picture?

Last year too, the Union government had marked the anniversary at the same place, where Union Minister Amit Shah had said it was shameful of the BRS not to call the event Telangana Liberation Day and camouflage it as Telangana Integration Day, while the Congress chose to call it Independence Day.

As it would be a Union government event and the Parade Ground is under the control of the Defence Ministry, it is more than likely that the Congress request for permission to hold its huge rally might not be considered.

Gnashing his teeth at the BJP for throwing its oar in, Revanth Reddy, chief of the Congress state unit, said that his party would look at other options — one such being the LB Stadium, for which the Hyderabad police have to give its permission.

As relations between the Congres and the BRS remain strained, it is unlikely that the police would give permission to the grand old party that easily, and even might reject it on the ground that it would lead to traffic snarls in the heart of the city.

Which is why the Congress is also looking at the outskirts of Hyderabad, along the Outer Ring Road.

“Come what may, the public meeting would be organised as planned. I request all party workers to make it a resounding success,” Revanth Reddy has exhorted.