Profile: Revanth Reddy, the ‘fighter’ who took KCR head-on to emerge as chief minister of Telangana

Revanth singlehandedly lifted the sagging morale of the Congress, which was at its lowest after being pulverised by the BRS in the 2018 polls.

ByRaj Rayasam

Published Dec 05, 2023 | 11:08 PMUpdatedDec 07, 2023 | 1:53 PM

File photo pf would-be Telangana chief minister Revanth Reddy.

Firebrand Congress leader A Revanth Reddy, who is set to take over on Thursday, 7 December, as the party’s first chief minister in Telangana, has proved that the only way to the top is to fight one’s way through.

In just a matter of a couple of years, Revanth Reddy — who was a relative nobody — rose through the ranks and took over the state unit of the party, which only shows that he is no quitter in the face of adversity.

Revanth singlehandedly lifted the sagging morale of the Congress workers, which was at its lowest after the party was pulverised by the BRS juggernaut in the 2018 elections.

He helped the party bounce back, become battle-ready and eventually vanquish BRS chief K Chandrashekar Rao in the just-concluded Telangana Assembly elections.

Related: Revanth Reddy to be Congress’ first chief minister in Telangana

Rise through the ranks

Revanth Reddy earned a massive following among the youth with his oratory and swashbuckling actions.

This included flying a drone over a farmhouse owned by BRS working president KT Rama Rao at Janwada to prove that the former Telangana minister had constructed the house in the catchment area of Himayat Sagar and Osman Sagar on Hyderabad’s outskirts, which was verboten.

He has the rare trait of doubling down on his resolve when the going gets tough. He is not the only leader with fire in his belly. He is also as aggressive as anyone can be in forcing his way ahead in politics, an attribute that KCR used to have once but lost over the years.

As KCR began looking jaded and washed out, Revanth Reddy, in contrast, rose like a supernova in the run-up to the recently held Telangana Assembly elections and captured power which no one had thought was possible.

With a tally of 64 seats for the Congress, Revanth stood so tall that others who had chief-ministerial ambitions could not come anywhere near him.

Related: Speculations escalate on inclusions in new Telangana Cabinet

Taking on the old guard

Revanth Reddy began growing politically in 2017 by targeting KCR.

After joining the Congress in 2017, he fought and lost his election to the Assembly in 2018.

In September of that year, he was promoted to the rank of working president of the TPCC under then-state unit president N Uttam Kumar Reddy.

In the Lok Sabha elections that followed in 2019, he bounced back and won the Malkajgiri Lok Sabha seat, thanks to the support of the ‘settler’ votes at the bidding of TDP chief Chandrababu Naidu.

As his image grew, so did the intensity of the suspicious gaze of the old guard in the Congress.

In 2021, he was promoted to the position of the TPCC president, which became an eyesore for several senior leaders of the party, including Uttam Kumar Reddy, Komatireddy Venkata Reddy, and Mallu Bhatti Vikramarka.

The rival camp in the TPCC ganged up against him but Revanth, the fighter that he was, hit back while taking enough care that his moves did not blow up in his face.

Suspecting that the then Telangana in-charge Manickam Tagore was hand-in-glove with Revanth Reddy and that he had played an important role in becoming the TPCC president, the old guard bayed for his blood.

In December 2022, under the “Save Congress” banner, they demanded measures from the party high command to set the house in order, accusing Revanth Reddy of packing the party State Committee with his loyalists.

The party sent emissaries to Hyderabad and quelled the rebellion by removing Manickam Tagore and implementing some other measures.

Unlike several Congress leaders who chickened out in front of the indomitable former chief minister KCR, Revanth Reddy measured up to him, exhibiting another leadership trait.

He proved that the people would rally behind one who had no fear of consequences, no matter whether the path one chose was right or wrong.

Also read: EC orders suspension of Telangana DGP after he meets Revanth

Personal life

Revanth comes from an agricultural family. His parents are Anumula Narsimha Reddy and Anumula Ramachandramma.

The 54-year-old leader was born on 8 November, 1969, at Kondareddipally in the Mahabubnagar district in the erstwhile undivided Andhra Pradesh.

He married Geetha, the niece of former Union minister Jaipal Reddy, in 1992. They have a daughter — Nymisha Reddy.

He has a BA degree from the AV College in Hyderabad. He was active during his student days in the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, the student arm of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh — a fact that KTR used lately to try and discredit him in the eye of his Congress bosses.

His first brush was politics was with KCR, whom he came to despise later. He joined the TRS (now the BRS) in 2001, but left it in 2006 as he could not adjust to the ambience of the party.

Though he did not join any party for some time, he was active in public life. He first contested and won as a ZPTC member from the Mahabuabnagr district.

Also read: Telangana Congress minority dept chief quits, blames Revanth

Early political career

Revanth Reddy then contested and won an election to the erstwhile Andhra Pradesh’s Legislative Council.

He joined the TDP in 2007, going on to impress party chief Chandrababu Naidu to such an extent that the latter gave him his first big break by fielding him from Kondangal in 2009, an election he won.

Revanth, till he joined the Congress in 2017, was not very well known except as Chandrababu Naidu’s protege.

He even now admits to this graciously, knowing fully well that such an admission might give a handle to the BRS to brand him as one who is kowtowing to an Andhra leader.

Even after the creation of Telangana state in 2014, he did not flip party and stood firmly with his mentor and leader Chandrababu Naidu.

Though most of his colleagues left the TDP, with the BRS government gunning for Chandrababu Naidu, and the party losing its relevance in Telangana, Revanth stuck with the TDP leader.

In fact, he did not mind doing the bidding of Naidu when the latter sent him to nominated MLC Elvis Stephenson to persuade him to vote for Vem Narender, the TDP candidate in the Telangana Legislative Council elections in 2015.

Not knowing that it was a sting operation by the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB), Revanth Reddy was caught on camera offering ₹50 lakh to Stephenson on 31 May, 2015.

The ACB arrested him and sent him to jail, where he spent about one month before he came out on bail on 1 July.

Cash-for-vote case: SC to hear Revanth Reddy’s plea in January

What worked in his favour

Though everyone had thought his arrest would remain a blot on his escutcheon, it ended up adding a sheen to his persona, projecting him as not only an intrepid leader but also one who was loyal to Naidu.

When he was released on bail, his supporters, admirers, and TDP workers organised a huge rally from the prison in Hyderabad.

As he has waged a valiant fight against KCR even before he was arrested, he had several admirers — particularly in Andhra Pradesh.

On the day when he was released, everyone in Andhra Pradesh was glued to the television sets, celebrating his release as they were at the time angry with KCR for bifurcating the state.

In fact, Revanth Reddy, on more than one occasion, has compared himself to a a girl who moved to her in-laws’ place after her wedding.

“When the girl is with her parents, it is her world. Once she goes to her in-laws, her new home is her world. Just as the way the girl does not forget her parents, though she is at her in-laws’ place, I too do not forget my first home — Telugu Desam.”