Imponderables make polls dicey for Telangana Congress in Bhongir Lok Sabha seat

It will not be an easy ride for the Congress without the help of the Komatireddy brothers, the political identity of the Nalgonda district.

ByRaj Rayasam

Published Apr 11, 2024 | 9:00 AM Updated Apr 11, 2024 | 9:00 AM

Congress

With the Congress hoping to ride upon the remnants of its Assembly elections victory in Telangana, the Bhongir Lok Sabha constituency has become a dicey affair for the grand old party.

For one thing, it will not be an easy ride for any Congress candidate without the help of the Komatireddy brothers, who have become the political identity of the Nalgonda district.

Komatireddy Venkata Reddy, the Roads and Buildings Minister in the Revanth Reddy Cabinet, represented the constituency in the outgoing Lok Sabha.

His younger brother Komatirreddy Rajagopal Reddy was elected to the lower house in 2009 from the same constituency.

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Foes turned friends

The catch here is that both the brothers, till the recent Assembly elections, did not see eye to eye with Revanth Reddy. Both brothers mellowed down after the Congress’ dramatic victory at the hustings.

Venkatareddy who won from the Nalgonda Assembly seat became a minister while Rajagopal Reddy, elected from the Munugode Assembly segment, is waiting to be taken into the Cabinet.

In an ironic twist, Revanth Reddy, at a review meeting in Bhongir on Wednesday, 10 April, entrusted the responsibility of ensuring the victory of the party candidate and his protege Chamala Kiran Kumar Reddy to Rajagopal Reddy.

It is not clear what carrot the chief minister has dangled before him to get him on board to work for the victory of Kiran Kumar Reddy but he agreed to the responsibility. He even said he would ensure a majority of not less than two lakh votes.

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Congress hopes for victory

In the 2023 Assembly elections, the Congress won all Assembly seats but one in the Bhongir Lok Sabha constituency. The lone seat that slipped from Congress hands was Jangaon where BRS’ Palla Rajeswar Reddy won.

At the Bhongir Parliamentary constituency meeting attended by all the MLAs from the Assembly segments on Wednesday, Revanth Reddy wanted all hands to be on the deck as each Lok Sabha seat is precious for the party which is raring to come to power at the Centre.

He said Kiran Kumar Reddy would file his nomination papers on 21 April, accompanied by a huge rally in which he would attend.

The PCC president also stated that party general secretary Priyanka Gandhi is expected to address rallies in Miryalaguda and Choutuppal in May.

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Issues in the past

Ever since Revanth Reddy joined the Congress, both brothers had taken arms against him. His ascent in the party became an eye sore, as he was not a dyed-in-the-wool Congressman but a migrant from the TDP which was its principal rival till the bifurcation of the state in 2014.

Rajagopal Reddy even left the Congress, joined the BJP and fought the by-election for his Munugode Assembly segment in November 2022, unable to live in the habitat where Revanth Reddy was throwing his weight around.

Venkata Reddy led a camp of dissidents against Revanth Reddy and campaigned against his elevation as PCC president.

Finally, the two brothers gave in, after Revanth Reddy led the party single-handedly to victory in the recent Assembly elections. When the party decided that he should be the chief minister, the two brothers had no option but to bite the bullet.

Venkata Reddy reconciled himself to having Revanth Reddy as the chief minister since he was taken into the Cabinet, but Rajagoapal Reddy was not happy. He was looking for more from the Congress, even after winning from Munugode on the Congress ticket in the Assembly elections.

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The Rajagopal Reddy dilemma

When the allotment of the ticket for the Bhongir Lok Sabha seat came up, Rajagopal Reddy is understood to have put his foot firmly down, insisting that his wife Lakshmi be allotted the ticket for Bhongir.

Later on, he reportedly gave another option to the party — that he would back down on his demand for a ticket to his wife if he is taken into the Cabinet. The party let the issue simmer and decided to field Kiran Kumar Reddy as its candidate from Bhongir.

The two brothers, mainly Rajagopal Reddy, have been opposing Kiran Reddy’s candidature ever since his name came up as a possible candidate. Rajagopal Reddy had his axe to grind.

As Revanth Reddy supported Kiran Kumar Reddy, the two brothers began saying that a Backward Class (BC) candidate should be chosen for the seat since BJP has fielded a BC — former MP Boora Narasaiah Goud.

The million-dollar question is how the party is going to please Rajagopal Reddy since the possibility of making him a minister in Revanth Reddy’s Cabinet is remote as his brother is already there.

(Edited by Muhammed Fazil)