The BJP has hastened its effort to land former Khammam MP Ponguleti Srinivas Reddy and former minister Jupally Krishna Rao by extending a formal invitation to both of them to join the saffron ranks.
BJP leaders Eatala Rajender, M Raghunandan Rao, Konda Vishweshwar Reddy, and Enugu Ravinder Reddy called on the two former BRS leaders at Srinivas Reddy’s house in Khammam on Thursday, 4 May, where they tried to make him see the benefits of joining the BJP.
Congress and BJP vying for both
As the Congress is also keen on spiriting him away, the BJP appeared to beat the grand old party in the game. However, both Srinivas Reddy and Krishna Rao have proved to be as slippery as the proverbial eel.
The two leaders, who have fallen from grace in the BRS and are currently suspended for “anti-party activities”, are yet to make up their minds as to which of the two parties — the Congress or the BJP — is a better bet.
With the Karnataka Assembly elections fast approaching, they seem to be waiting to see which way the wind will blow before taking a call on the options before them.
Srinivas Reddy’s stand
After the meeting with the BJP delegation, Srinivas Reddy said that the saffron party leaders have invited him to join their party but that he and Krishna Rao were still undecided.
“We have to talk to our supporters before taking a call. But we all want to send KCR home this time. His dream of scoring a hattrick should remain a dream forever,” Srinivas Reddy said.
He said that he expects many such meetings to be held in the near future and that his and Krishna Rao’s only aim is to bring down KCR, come what may.
“We will soon find the best way to reach our goal,” he said.
To the question whether he would seek election to the Lok Sabha from Khammam, as there were reports that KCR is also contemplating of contesting from there, Srinivas Reddy shot back, “Do you have any doubt?”
He said what had pained him was that KCR had abandoned the objective of the Telangana movement to transform the lives of the people for the better after the formation of the state.
“I have shared these feelings with the BJP delegation also,” he said.
Krishna Rao’s stand
Krishna Rao said that if the Telangana martyrs’ sacrifices is not to go waste, then it is necessary to ensure that KCR is defeated in the next Assembly elections.
“We have not taken any decision at the meeting today. We have to discuss the options before us with all stakeholders first,” Rao said, while maintaining that all efforts would be taken to make sure that the anti-government vote does not split.
Eatala Rajender, himself once a top BRS leaders before falling out with KCR, said after the meeting that they had called on Krishna Rao on the instructions of party president JP Nadda and Home Minister Amit Shah.
He said that the talks with Srinivas and Krishna Rao took place in an atmosphere of camaraderie and mutual trust.
“We all share one objective in common — sending KCR home this time,” Rajender said, and pointed out that it was the BJP alone that has the power to achieve this.
He hoped that both former leaders of BRS would join the BJP before long.
BJP state chief unaware of meeting
The BJP MLAs’ meeting with the ex-BRS leaders seemed to reveal the internal bickering in the Telangana BJP, state party president Bandi Sanjay Kumar openly saying that he had no information about MLAs Eatala Rajender and M Raghunandan Rao’s lunch meeting with Srinivas Reddy and Krishna Rao, to invite them to the party.
His comments assumed significance at a time when the BJP high command made it clear to party leaders in Telangana that everyone should put up a united front to dethrone the BRS government in the state.
When reporters asked him about the party MLAs meeting, Bandi Sanjay replied, “There is no information about the meeting as I lost my phone and everyone knows it. It’s not wrong if they did not inform me. They will do their own work. Rajender will speak to those who know him and I will speak to those who know me.”
“We invite Srinivas Reddy to the powerful BJP as we want all those who oppose the dictatorial rule of Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao to join our party, who have guts and courage to fight against the BRS. People across the state have faith in the BJP,” Sanjay said.
He said that everyone’s aim in the party is to bring “Rama Rajyam” in the state, defeating the BRS government in the next Assembly elections.
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— Bandi Sanjay Kumar (@bandisanjay_bjp) May 4, 2023