Former MP Ponguleti Srinivasa Reddy, who was suspended by the BRS for “anti-party activities”, is on the horns of a dilemma over which of the two parties — the Congress or the BJP — he should join.
“I am under tremendous pressure from both the parties,” he had said recently, indicating that both parties are considering him as a prize catch.
But he does not want to be hurried into taking a decision and then repent later. He is at present weighing the pros and cons of joining the BJP or the Congress.
Meanwhile, the Congress is understood to have redoubled its efforts to land the big fish as Srinivasa Reddy draws a lot of water in the erstwhile Khammam district.
Congress aims clean sweep of Khammam
Congress party leaders believe that if Srinivasa Reddy is on their side, they could make a clean sweep of seats in Khammam as the party is traditionally strong in the district, given the socio-cultural composition of the electorate.
They also believe that if Srinivasa Reddy joins the Congress, the party would get a new lease on life in the state. After its debacle in the 2018 Assembly elections, the party remained dead and alive at the same time, much like Shrodinger’s cat.
It is expected that his arrival in the party would strengthen its sinews as, at present, it is having leaders who do not see eye to eye with one another.
The cold war between Bhongir MP Komatireddy Venkata Reddy and state chief A Revanth Reddy is all too well known, to name one festering sore.
Sources told South First that Congress leaders from Delhi had contacted Srinivasa Reddy and invited him to the party.
They seem to have offered tickets to his nominees in constituencies held by Congress MLAs, but who had defected to the BRS later, and the lone seat that is represented by minister Puvvada Ajay Kumar.
In 2018, the Congress won seven seats, TDP two, and the BRS only one in Khammam.
BJP wants a powerful leader in Khammam
Meanwhile, the BJP too is equally interested in winning Srinivasa Reddy to its side, but so far the Khammam leader has not let the saffron party have a sneak peek into his mind.
The saffron party wants a powerful leader in Khammam where it is practically nonexistent. Using him as the launch pad, it wants to capture the Khammam turf from the Congress and prevent the BRS from making any inroads into it.
In fact, when party Joinings Committee chairman Eatala Rajender — in his recent visit to Delhi along with other leaders, including party state president Bandi Sanjay Kumar — had explained to Union Minister Amit Shah the new opportunity that had opened up in Khammam and suggested that the party should not brook any delay in luring him.
BJP leaders are understood to have spoken to him as soon as he was suspended from the BRS, inviting him into the ranks of the saffron party, but Srinvasa Reddy remained indecisive.
Recently, he said that he would chart his future course of action in May, implying that he wants to wait for the outcome of the elections in Karnataka. Obviously, he wants to see which way the cookie crumbles in the neighbouring state to decide which party is a better bet for him.
‘Will join, if party can overthrow KCR’
The Khammam leader, who had fallen from grace in the BRS, said that he would join a party which will fulfil the ambition of the people of Telangana to overthrow KCR and see the last of the BRS government in the state.
Speaking to media persons in Penuganchiprolu mandal in the NTR district in Andhra Pradesh a couple of days ago, the former BRS leader said that the KCR was not keeping the promises he had made to the people.
“The party which challenges the BRS will have the blessings of the people and I will join hands with such a party,” he said, indicating that he may not be planning to float any party of his own, contrary to speculation.
The BRS leaders too are watching the unfolding scenario keenly, sharpening their strategies to gain a strong foothold in the district.
For instance, estranged former minister Thummala Nageswara Rao in Khammam is back in the reckoning in the BRS.
He represents the Kammas, a powerful community in the Khammam district.
The party is also trying to package all the Congress and TDP MLAs who had joined the BRS after their election in the 2018 Assembly election, as dyed-in-the-wool BRS leaders so that they could retain their seats and thus help the BRS establish its hold on the district.