Congress in Telangana shifts to anti-poaching mode, may take elected members to Karnataka

Karnataka Deputy Chief Minister DK Shivakumar is arriving in Hyderabad on Saturday, more leaders are likely to reach Telangana.

ByRaj Rayasam

Published Dec 02, 2023 | 7:17 PMUpdated Dec 02, 2023 | 8:05 PM

Congress in Telangana shifts to anti-poaching mode, may take elected members to Karnataka

Confident of a new dawn in Telangana politics, the Congress is taking all precautions to keep its flock together and prevent the poaching of its MLAs if it falls short of numbers when the Assembly election results are announced on Sunday, 3 December.

To begin with, Karnataka Deputy Chief Minister and the party state unit chief DK Shivakumar, with a proven track record of countering poaching bids, was set to arrive in Hyderabad later on Saturday.

According to sources South First reached out to, the Congress has asked all its candidates to assemble at the Taj Krishna Hotel and await further instructions on Sunday.

In case the results go down to the wire, the Congress has plans to shift its elected members to Karnataka, where it is in power — away from the “dreaded” hands of the BRS.

Speaking to reporters in Bengaluru on Saturday morning, Shivkumar said he was confident of a Congress win in Telangana.

“I do not see any threat. I have confidence that we will win the election. The MLAs are very loyal to the party. They told me that they were approached by the chief minister. No one will go to the BRS camp this time. They know that attempts are being made to trap them. They are cautious,” he said.

Related: South First Exit Poll gives Congress a clear majority in Telangana

Congress leaders to arrive in Hyderabad

Besides Shivakumar, a battery of Congress leaders, too, would be descending on Hyderabad.

They include Karnataka ministers KJ George, and NS Boseraju, AICC screening committee chairman for Telangana K Muraleedharan, leaders Ramesh Chennithala, Deepa Das Munshi, AICC secretaries Rohit Chaudhary, Mansoor Ali Khan, and PC Vishnunadh.

Congress sources said the party has decided to assign one AICC observer to each of the 49 counting centres in the state. It would be their responsibility to escort the newly elected MLAs to the Taj Krishna Hotel in Hyderabad.

The AICC leaders would inform them of the plans.

The sources said that party senior leader Rahul Gandhi also held a video conference with the leaders in the evening.

Congress complaint to CEO

Earlier, a delegation of the Congress leaders led by Telangana state unit president A Revanth Reddy and Nalgonda MP N Uttam Kumar Reddy, urged Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Vikas Raj to restrain the government from diverting ₹6,000 crore meant for the Rythu Bandhu scheme to clear the bills of contractors close to the government.

“The Model Code of Conduct (MCC) is in place in Telangana. Since the ECI did not permit the disbursement of Rythu Bandhu during the period of MCC, the government of Telangana is planning to disburse large payments of Rs 6,000 crore to favoured contractors for receiving kickbacks,” the Congress memorandum to the CEO said.

The party also alleged in the letter that the Dharani integrated land records management system was being misused to change land title records.

“As for thousands of acres of assigned lands in Ranga Reddy, Sangareddy, and Medchal districts, which were assigned lands as per previous land records, the Dharani portal is being misused to change land title records. These properties are being transferred to the benamis of the chief minister’s family members,” it said.

‘Favouring crony contractors’

After making the presentation to the CEO, Uttam Kumar Reddy told media persons said that taking advantage of the fact the ECI had prohibited the transfer of Rythu Bandhu money to farmers till the MCC came to an end, attempts were on to favour the contractors of its choice.

He said the Congress had reasons to believe that the government was transferring the titles of assigned lands in Ranga Reddy, Sangareddy, and Medchal districts to the benamis of K Chandrashekar Rao through the Dharani portal.

“We appealed to the chief electoral officer to ask the chief secretary to ensure that the government does not misuse of its powers on these two counts,” he said.

Asked why the chief minister called the Cabinet meeting on 4 December, he said he did not know but added as an afterthought that it could be to resign as the chief minister.

While most exit poll surveys predicted the Congress to cross the 60-seat mark, a few others suggested that Telangana was headed for a hung Assembly.

Polling to 119 seats were held on Thursday, 30 November.

The Rythu Bandhu row

A key welfare initiative of the KCR-led government, the Rythu Bandhu scheme, pledges ₹4,000 per acre to Telangana farmers biannually for the kharif and rabi seasons.

Commencing in 2018, the Rythu Bandhu scheme initially garnered the participation of 58 lakh farmers, and this number increased to 70 lakh by July 2023.

This welfare program was anticipated by the BRS to play a pivotal role in retaining political power in the state.

The Congress and various civil society groups urged the Election Commission not to permit fund disbursement under the scheme, arguing that it could provide an advantage to the ruling party in influencing voters during the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) period.

However, on the 25th, the ECI issued a press release stating that it grants permission for the BRS government to disburse the funds.

In response to this approval, the finance minister and BRS campaigner, T. Harish Rao, addressed public rallies, highlighting the release of the Rythu Bandhu funds. Subsequently, following a complaint from a Congress leader, the ECI withdrew permission for the disbursement of Rythu Bandhu funds on 27 November.

Later on, the BRS appealed to the ECI to reconsider, asserting that there was no violation by the minister. However, the ECI did not retract its decision.