Congress yet to finalise names for eight LS seats while the BRS and BJP complete the exercise

The grand old party has so far announced candidates for nine seats. For the rest of the constituencies, it is unable to take a quick decision.

ByRaj Rayasam

Published Mar 25, 2024 | 6:39 PMUpdatedMar 25, 2024 | 6:39 PM

CM Revanth Reddy- Mallikarjun Kharge (X)

Even as both the BJP and the BRS have finalised candidates for all 17 Lok Sabha seats in Telangana, the Congress is yet to get its act together regarding eight seats.

The grand old party has so far announced candidates for nine seats. For the rest of the constituencies, it appears unable to make a quick decision.

The party leaders say that the inordinate delay is because the high command is adopting a calibrated approach in deciding on the candidates.

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Party’s bright prospects in Telangana

For the party, every seat is very important. In the process, the commencement of campaigning in these constituencies is being delayed, which may prove very costly, going forward.

As the party’s prospects are bright in Telangana, the Congress does not want to fritter away the opportunity by betting on the wrong horses. If it does, it would mean losing seats and a cut in the national tally of the Congress and the INDIA bloc seats.

AICC in-charge for Telangana Deepa Dasmunsi is playing an active role in assessing the strength of the aspirants before recommending their names to the party leadership.

Besides this, party strategist Sunil Kanugolu is also coming up with his flash surveys based on which the party high command is making decisions.

According to a source in the Congress, the party is dead serious about the elections as winning a maximum number of seats is very important.

“The top brass is considering their financial muscle, their rapport with leaders in each Assembly segment and their acceptance levels among people,” the source said, speaking to South First.

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Candidates announced so far

The party is expected to decide on the remaining seats at the Central Election Committee (CEC) meeting coming up on 27 March.

It is not clear if the party would clear names for all the seats or would keep some of them in abeyance as the elections in Telangana will be on 13 May in the fourth phase and nominations will not begin till 18 April.

The party has so far announced candidates for nine seats. They are: Gaddam Vamsi Krishna (Peddapalli-SC), P Sunitha Mahender Reddy (Malkajgiri), Danam Nagender (Secunderabad), Mallu Ravi (Nagarkurnool-SC), Gaddam Ranjit Reddy (Chevella), Suresh Shetkar (Zaheerabad), Challa Vamsichand Reddy (Mahabubngar), Kunduru Raghuveer Reddy (Nalgonda), and Porika Balram Naik (Mahabubabad-ST).

In some constituencies, the party is reportedly finding it difficult to untangle the Gordian knots in deciding on candidates. In others, it does not seem very confident of those available.

The candidates would have to measure up to the BRS, the party that has been wounded in the Assembly elections and is biding its time to strike back and the BJP, which is looking towards the South to improve its “400-par” seats count.

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Candidate selection dilemma for Adilabad 

In Adilabad (ST), the selection of the candidate is taking time because the party seems unable to pick the right candidate. It is not yet known what the moves of the sitting BJP MP Soyam Bapu Rao will be after the party dumped him for the BRS turncoat Godam Nagesh.

He is known to have a good rapport with Chief Minister A Revanth Reddy but there are no indications as yet whether he would join the Congress. He had said that if the BJP did not renominate him, he would have to chart his own course, whatever he meant by that.

The party is considering Adivasi woman leader Atram Suguna, who resigned as a government teacher and joined the Congress recently in the presence of the chief minister. She is popular among the workers and her candidature is being supported by Telangana minister Danasari Anasuya, popularly known as Seethakka.

She has a Maoist background and has worked among the tribals. The party is also looking at the candidature of former BRS MLA Ajmera Rekha Naik, who joined the Congress, and Congress leader Naresh Jadhav.

It is likely that Suguna might make the cut as she has Seethakka’s backing but the party is also weighing other options, as Lambadas matter the most in the electoral politics in the constituency.

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Karimnagar, Nizamabad LS seats

For Karimnagar, the party is at a crossroads, unable to find a candidate who can take on BRS’ B Vinod Kumar and BJP general secretary Bandi Sanjay Kumar, who is representing the constituency in Lok Sabha now.

The only candidate available for the Congress is A Praveen Reddy, who withdrew from the contest for ticket in favour of Ponnam Prabhakar in the Assembly election from Husnabad.

For Ponnam Prabhakar, who won the seat and became a minister, it is now payback time. He is trying his best to get a Lok Sabha seat for him. The party leadership, on the other hand, seems not very sure that Praveen Reddy would be able to match the BJP and BRS rivals.

The party is understood to be considering MLC T Jeevan Reddy’s candidature but he is showing interest in contesting from Nizamabad. This is because his assembly constituency Jagtiyal is part of the Nizamabad Lok Sabha seat.

If he is moved to Karimnagar, the party would have a tough time finding a candidate for Nizamabad. The BJP and BRS are fielding Munnuru Kapu candidates Arvind Dharmapuri and Bajireddy Govardhan.

The party is looking at the candidature of Muthyala Sunil Reddy, CEO of Orange Group of companies. He joined the Congress in July 2023 and he might be considered for Nizamabad Lok Sabha seat. In such a case, it would be a Reddy versus two Munnuru Kapu candidates.

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Bhongir, Khammam and Medak seats

For Bhongir, the party has to decide between MLA Komatireddy Rajagopal Reddy’s wife Lakshmi and party leader Chamala Kiran Kumar Reddy. Rajagopal Reddy is insisting on a Lok Sabha ticket for his wife or a berth for himself in Kiran Kumar Reddy’s cabinet.

As his brother Venkata Reddy is already a minister, the party cannot accommodate his request for inclusion in the cabinet and at the same time rub him the wrong way by ignoring Lakshmi.

As he is a leader with deep pockets and influence in the Bhongir constituency, his cooperation would be a sine qua non for the party to win the seat.

The party is also facing a similar problem in Khammam, where Deputy Chief Minister Mallu Bhatti Vikramarka is insisting on the allotment of a ticket to his wife Nandini. However, equally determined is Revenue Minister P Srinivas Reddy, who wants the ticket for his brother Prasad Reddy.

The party leadership is in a fix since it cannot ruffle the feelings of Vikramarka and his wife Nandini or, for that matter, Srinivas Reddy.

Recently Nandini had said that her husband deserved to have been made the chief minister but was asked to be content in being the deputy chief minister.

If the party accommodates his request and allots the ticket to Nandini, it would mean too much representation to the Mallu family as Vikramarka’s brother Ravi is already a Congress candidate from Nagarkurnool.

For Medak, the party seems to have more or less decided in favour of BC leader Neelam Madhu. He joined the Congress after the BRS denied Patancheruvu Assembly ticket.

But in Congress too, his name was dropped in the last minute. Upset, Madhu joined the BSP and contested from Pantancheruvu.

He polled more than 46,000 votes but lost the election. He acted like a prodigal son and returned to Congress and is now expecting Medak ticket.

Meanwhile, actress-turned-politician Vijayashanthi is also keen on contesting from Medak from where she was elected in 2009. She joined the Congress in November in the presence of party president Mallikarjun Kharge.

It looks as though no one is very much interested in the Hyderabad Lok Sabha seat, as it is perceived that breaking the hold of AIMIM president Asaduddin Owaisi on the constituency is next to impossible.

Nonetheless, the party is considering the names of former Indian cricket team captain Mohammad Azharuddin and Congress leader Feroz Khan.

It is likely that the party might not put its heart and soul into fighting the election as current indications suggest that the Congress is trying to be pally with AIMIM to consolidate its position in the State Assembly with its help.

(Edited by Shauqueen Mizaj)