As former chief minister of Madhya Pradesh Digvijaya Singh on Friday, 23 December, wrapped up his two-day peace-keeping mission in the Telangana Congress by trying to bring the two warring factions in the party together, tempers of the dissidents continued to remain frayed over his reluctance to entertain their request for a change of guard.
Ever since he landed in Hyderabad on Wednesday, there has been an endless stream of “natives” (read rebels) with complaints as long as one’s arm against state party chief A Revanth Reddy, considered a “migrant” by the old guard of the party, and Congress Telangana in-charge Manickam Tagore.
Even as he did not entertain their request, Singh counter-questioned them on what they were doing to brighten the prospects of the party as elections were less than a year away.
He made no bones about the party high command’s reluctance to replace Reveanth Reddy or Manickam Tagore. He, however, promised to remove the irritants which made it difficult for them to work with the Telangana chief.
He also assured them that he would look into the complaints on the constitution of state committees. The AICC trouble-shooter also listened to the leaders of Revanth Reddy’s faction (read “migrants”) as they narrated their version of the kind of trouble-makers the other faction in the party were.
The AICC leader prevaricated over replying to an uncomfortable question by a reporter at a news conference on Friday on whether he would recommend the replacement of Revanth Reddy and Manickam Tagore.
Also read: Why the Telangana Congress is in a shambles
His reply was cryptic and laconic, as he said, “It was not my brief.” Asked whether he had accomplished his mission to Hyderabad, his pithy reply was: “All settled. No problem.”
In another context, he said that it was necessary for everyone in the party to work together and that there cannot be groups like seniors or juniors.
“When I was made the chief of Madhya Pradesh Congress at a very young age, there were towering personalities in the party. But I delivered as the president and then went on to become the chief minister. Similarly, late YS Rajashekhar Reddy was also a state president though there were several seniors available at that time. Rajasekhar Reddy did well as the state presdient and became the chief minister,” he said.
The statement of Digvijaya Singh has created doubts about whether he was hinting at the possibility in the distant future of Revanth Reddy becoming the chief minister, in the event of the Congress coming to power in the state.
He made a fervent appeal to the party leaders to bury the hatchet and work together to bring the party back into power as it was the Congress that delivered Telangana and not the BRS, which had just two MPs in Parliament at that time.
“If you have any differences with one another, you are free to approach the party high command. I am making this plea with folded hands,” he said, underscoring the need for the party to remain a cohesive monolith to fight the BRS in the coming Assembly elections.
Opportunity for Congress
He also pointed out that there is an opportunity for the Congress to stage a comeback as both the BRS and the BJP were carrying a heavy load of anti-incumbency. If the party remains together, it can aim to defeat the enemy, he said.
Digvijaya Singh showed an exceptional degree of patience for his age in receiving representations from the leaders of the two factions beginning Wednesday night.
On Thursday, he even skipped his lunch and listened to the leaders who kept on projecting the rival faction as the villain of the piece.
He spoke to the leaders even while he was on his evening walk on the premises of the Gandhi Bhavan and later on when he sat again for another session at Gandhi Bhavan itself with the party leaders till late into the night.
Though only 54 leaders were given time to meet the AICC leader, he ended up listening to 100 more leaders. A majority of them lodged a strong protest against the way Revanth Reddy and Manickam Tagore were functioning.
Erosion in Congress vote bank
Their complaints to the former chief minister included that after Revanth Reddy took over, there has been an erosion in the Congress vote bank and that because of him several leaders had left the party. If Revanth continued, the slide would continue, they are reported to have told him.
The AICC leader at one stage was upset with the behaviour of workers of the leaders of the dissident group when they resorted to fisticuffs with former MLA E Anil, who made some uncharitable comments about the “natives”.
For some time, the situation seemed to be getting out of control with workers of one faction getting ready to manhandle the leader of another. The timely intervention of party senior vice- president Mallu Ravi prevented an ugly scene.
పెద్దలు శ్రీ.@digvijaya_28 గారు, నేడు పార్టీ నేతలతో చర్చించిన అనంతరం పార్టీ నేతలను, కార్యకర్తలను ఉద్దేశించి ఒక ముఖ్యమైన ప్రకటన చేశారు
పార్టీ కంటే ఎవరూ పెద్దవారు కాదని, బహిరంగ వేదికపై నుంచి ఎవరైనా పార్టీకి వ్యతిరేకంగా మాట్లాడినా,ప్రవర్తించినా, ఎంతటి వారైనా కఠిన చర్యలు తప్పవన్నారు pic.twitter.com/ZsX0oDTfI6
— Telangana Congress (@INCTelangana) December 23, 2022
Digvijaya Singh arrived at Gandhi Bhavan on the morning of Thursday, and was closeted with the leaders of both factions individually throughout the day.
He did not hide his displeasure with them for going to the media with a long list of complaints against the state leadership and how they suspected its involvement in a smear campaign against them. They also breathed fire at the party state leadership for the unilateral decision in the constitution of the committees for the state.
The former chief minister said that the party’s high command was keenly watching the goings-on in the Telangana Congress and that it would be foolhardy for them to think that no one was watching.
He told them that the immediate need was to prepare the party to fight the Assembly elections and come back to power in the state but what they were doing is nothing but damaging the party’s prospects.
According to Singh, the state leaders lack any strategy in taking the BRS on in the arena of the elections. He asked them what they have been doing to strengthen the party and said he wanted specific instances of their contribution to making the party rise to challenge the BRS.