The Telangana Congress was on Saturday, 17 December, plunged into its most serious crisis in recent times as a bunch of leaders, calling themselves the “real Congress”, raised the banner of revolt against state chief A Revanth Reddy.
Adopting a “Save Congress” slogan, the leaders, who gathered at the residence of Congress Legislature Party leader Mallu Bhatti Vikramarka, and included seniors such as Nalgonda MP Nalamada Uttam Kumar Reddy, accused Revanth Reddy of encouraging a campaign of calumny against them on social media, among other things.
While there has been simmering dissidence in the party ever since Revanth Reddy left the TDP and was welcomed into the Congress by the high command, the immediate provocation for Saturday’s revolt was that, of the 108 members appointed to different committees, 58 were from Telugu Desam Party.
Most of the old Congress hands in the state did not find a place on the powerful Political Affairs Committee (PAC) that guides the affairs of the party.
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‘Time to save Congress’
Speaking to media persons after the meeting, Uttam Kumar Reddy, himself a former TPCC president, said that the time had come for them to save the party.
“We have discussed what has been happening in the TPCC. The Congress is a democratic party. We will move forward with the slogan ‘Save Congress’,” he said.
Clearly furious at the manner in which the TPCC had been revamped, Uttam Kumar Reddy said that the purpose of the exercise appeared to be to “humiliate” long-time members of the party.
“Half of the 108-member appointed for different committees comprised erstwhile TDP leaders,” he said, pointing to the nub of the issue.
Contending that the revamp could have been done only by someone who “does not even have basic understanding of the party affairs”, Uttam Kumar Reddy launched into the Revanth Reddy faction for marginalising opponents and defaming them on social media.
“There has been a vilification campaign going on against many of us, dubbing us as spies of other parties. Social media is abuzz with misleading information about us. We have been in the party since our birth. Can Revanth Reddy do what we could not do so far?” Uttam Kumar Reddy asked.
The Nalgonda MP said that he had never seen such a trend of denigrating the seniors when he was the president of the PCC. Injustice has been done to the original, and genuine, Congress leaders, he said.
CLP leader Bhatti Vikramarka said that at their meeting, many leaders said a lot of injustice had been done to them in the constitution of the committee. There was an immediate threat to the existence of the party and we have to save it from becoming extinct, he said.
Among those at the meeting were Former deputy chief minister Damodar Rajanarasimha, former MLC K Prem Sagar Rao, former MLA Aleti Maheswar Reddy, MLA T Jayaparaksh Reddy, Kisan Congress vice-president M Kodanda Reddy, Youth Congres presdient K Sivasena Reddy, and former MP Madhu Yashki Goud.
“We will bring this to the notice of our party’s high command. A few leaders are acting with an intent to harm the interests of the party,” Bhatti Vikramarka said.
He said was not taken into confidence while the committees were reconstituted.
“I could not do justice to those who approached me,” he said, adding that his exclusion from decision making had hurt him very much. “I suspect there is a bigger conspiracy behind the smear campaign against us in social media,” he said.
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Dissidence since Revanth’s entry
Dissidence has been brewing in the party ever since Revanth Reddy left the TDP and joined the Congress in October 2017.
When he was made the TPCC president in June 2021, the dissidence reached a crescendo.
The last straw that broke the back of the camel was the way the party was revamped recently. This ignited a conflagration in the party as many did not get positions that they were sure of till then.
Bhongir MP Komatireddy Venkat Reddy, the star campaigner of the party, had been dropped from all committees.
His exclusion was somewhat justified as he had campaigned for his brother and BJP nominee Komatireddy Rajagopal Reddy in the recent Munugode by-election, the results of which were a stark pointer to the emasculation of the Congress in Telangana in recent times.
The party, which had the seat in its kitty till Rajagopal Reddy resigned as MLA and joined the BJP, came a distant and third after the TRS and the saffron party, with its candidate even losing her deposit.
While Venkat Reddy’s exclusion from the revamped committee could be justified, that of former minister Konda Surekha, considered a major political force in Warangal district, cannot. Not surprisingly, she resigned from the executive, miffed over not being included in the PAC.
In fact, Venkata Reddy, after meeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday, dropped subtle hints that he may be leaving the Congress ahead of the elections.
“I cannot say now on which party’s ticket I would contest,” he said.
He is the arch-enemy of Revanth Reddy and used all his might to prevent Revanth from becoming the president of the TPCC.
Venkat Reddy recently met AICC chief Mallikharjun Kharge and submitted to him a report on the way the TPCC was being run by Revanth Reddy.