The central leadership of the Congress has stepped in to put an end to the rift in the Telangana Congress. At 5 pm on Monday, key Telangana Congress leaders — including “miffed” Lok Sabha member Komatireddy Venkat Reddy — have been called for a “peacekeeping meeting” of sorts in New Delhi.
Given the tensions between Telangana Congress chief Revanth Reddy and some senior leaders of the party, AICC general secretary Priyanka Gandhi has stepped in to take control of the situation.
“The Congress is taking the Munugode bypoll seriously, and the central leadership will speak directly to the state leaders. With Priyanka Gandhi’s involvement in Telangana, we hope that the differences between the leaders will also be fixed,” Manickam Tagore, AICC in-charge for Telangana, told South First.
Why Priyanka Gandhi’s involvement is crucial
Priyanka Gandhi’s involvement in settling the differences in Telangana comes in the backdrop of at least two prominent leaders — Komatireddy Rajagopal Reddy and Dasoju Sravan — recently quitting the party and joining the BJP, citing differences with Revanth Reddy and his style of functioning.
The direct involvement of Priyanka Gandhi comes after Revanth Reddy’s unconditional public apology to party senior and Bhongir MP Komatireddy Venkat Reddy didn’t salvage the situation.
“All attempts to achieve unity among leaders at the state level have been futile. Many old-timers look at Munugode as Revanth Reddy’s election and not the party’s election. Priyanka Gandhi can perhaps change that perception. The Munugode Assembly constituency, given the political limelight it is drawing, has made it clear that the bypoll is going to be crucial,” said a Congress leader from Telangana.
While the Congress has been launching one campaign after another in Munugode ever since Rajagopal Reddy’s “betrayal”, its efforts pale in comparison to the mammoth public rallies that Telangana Chief Minister KC Chandrasekhar Rao managed to pull off for the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) on Saturday and Union Minster Amit Shah’s rally for the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) on Sunday.
The two tall leaders, with their speeches, also set up Munugode to be a TRS-versus-BJP fight: a status quo that the BJP is hoping to extrapolate to the Assembly elections in the state as well.
Congress cares more about Rajagopal’s loss
Marred by bad optics over its leaders quitting ahead of the Assembly elections in Telangana, the state unit of the Congress is keen on fighting the Munugode election to win, but insists that its priority is to ensure Rajagopal Reddy’s loss.
After officially joining the BJP on Sunday at Amit Shah’s event, Rajagopala Reddy will contest the Munugode bypoll on the saffron party’s ticket.
“The TRS can offer power, and the BJP can offer money. The Congress can offer neither. We are not in power at the Centre or in the state, and that is a disadvantage. Since Rajagopal Reddy will split the Congress vote between us and the BJP, the TRS stands to gain,” a senior functionary of the Congress’ election management committee told South First.
Another Congress leader from Telangana, however, insisted that defeating Rajagopal Reddy and all other turncoats was a priority.
“Whether it is in Munugode or in Karnataka, we are looking to ensure that those who deserted the party are defeated,” the senior leader from Telangana said.
Monday’s meeting is being viewed as crucial in keeping the Telangana Congress a united house. It was initiated by the Congress’ election strategist Sunil Kanugolu.
Sources in the party suggest that Kanugolu, who found success in getting Rahul Gandhi to intervene between Karnataka Congress leaders Siddaramaiah and DK Shivakumar and urge for a united front, has appealed to the party’s central leadership to repeat the efforts with Telangana Congress leaders.