The patterns in the political kaleidoscope in Khammam — and to some extent in Mahabubnagar — are set to change with BRS chief and Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao ousting former MP Ponguleti Srinivasa Reddy and former minister Jupally Krishna Rao from the party on Monday, 10 April.
The last straw seems to have been their broadside against the chief minister at a rival Athmeeya sammelan organised by Srinivasa Reddy in Kothagudem on Sunday.
Krishna Rao, who was a guest at the sammelan, packed a powerful punch at KCR, accusing him of riding roughshod over democracy.
He said that the people were agonised under KCR’s rule and that the chief minister had jettisoned those who fought for Telangana while he rode the popularity wave — after the formation of Telangana — to power.
KCR using arm-twisting tactics
Krishna Rao also took a swipe at KCR for the deplorable state of the panchayats. He pointed at the plight of sarpanches as the government did not clear the bills for works done.
He lashed out at the chief minister, saying that he always employed arm-twisting tactics if anyone questioned him about the maladministration.
“Those who speak against him face cases. KCR is treating the state as his fiefdom and is not bothered about the people’s welfare,” he said.
Jupally Krishna Rao, a five-time MLA from Kollapur in Mahabubnagar district, lost the Assembly elections to Congress’s B Harsha Vardhan Reddy in 2018. Harsha Vardahan later ditched the Congress and joined the BRS. Since then, both leaders have been at each other’s throats.
A few months ago, Krishna Rao challenged Harsha Vardhan for a debate on their contributions to the development for the constituency.
Krishna Rao, who was elected to the Assembly on a Congress ticket in 2009, joined the BRS in 2011 and won the election in 2014. When in the Congress, he had a flaming row over the then Gadawal MLA, DK Aruna, who is now with the BJP.
Fly in the ointment
Srinivas Reddy, too, threw barbs at KCR at the sammelan. He said that KCR’s desire to score a hat-trick in the Assembly elections later this year would remain a dream. KCR, by rebranding TRS as BRS, has chosen the wrong path in leading the state, he said.
His relations with BRS seemed to have crossed a point of no return when the party did not invite him for the 18 January public meeting held in Khammam, which was attended by national leaders of other parties.
Srinivasa Reddy has remained a fly in the ointment for the chief minister ever since the latter began ignoring his requests for a party ticket to contest either the Assembly elections in 2018 or Lok Sabha a year later.
For several months, Srinivas Reddy has been targeting KCR’s leadership. When his supporters from Wyra constituency met him once, the party had cracked the whip at 20 of them, which made him fly off the handle.
Srinivasa Reddy joined the BRS after he had won the election to Lok Sabha from Khammam on a YSRCP ticket in 2014. He saw no future in remaining in the YSRCP with YS Jagan Mohan Reddy deciding to concentrate on Andhra Pradesh after realising that the party had lost its relevance in Telangana.
In the 2018 Assembly elections, Srinivasa Reddy eyed Palair Assembly seat but KCR did not consider him. Former Minister Thummala Nageswara Rao was fielded from there but he lost to Congress nominee Kandala Upender Reddy, who later joined the BRS.
In 2019, KCR again disappointed him by not fielding him to Lok Sabha from Khammam. He chose Nama Nageswara Rao who won the election. Nageswara Rao was in the TDP till then.
Leaders react to their suspension
Reacting to news of his suspension from the BRS, Jupally Krishna Rao said: “I am happy that the party has suspended me. I feel as though I have come out of a parrot’s cage. It is freedom from a den of dacoits.”
He said that he had been marginalised in the party and was not even given the membership enrolment books to ascertain his status in the party. “Was I in the BRS or not,” he wondered.
Asserting his independence, he said: “No one can buy even with ₹1,000 crore. KCR is a trustee to the people. He cannot act like a dictator.”
In his reaction, Ponguleti Srinivasa Reddy said that all anti-KCR forces are reuniting, and added that there were rumours doing the rounds that all those disgruntled elements in the BRS would come out and form a party .
Srinivasa Reddy has conducted Athmeeya sammelans in nine constituencies in Khammam district.