Will a new TPCC chief save Congress in Telangana?

Hyderabad:  If there is one thing we can be sure about with regard to the just concluded Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) elections, it is the Congress’s decline as a political force in Telangana. The party’s high command has sent its emissary to now identify a new state president, but it might be a little too late given that the damage is mostly beyond repair.

├ľn Wednesday, Manickam Tagore, in-charge of the Congress in Telangana landed in Hyderabad to take stock of things and to essentially identify a new TPCC chief. The issue however is that except for a handful of old horses, most of the Congress’s cadres and leaders have shifted either to the BJP or the TRS; a recurring occurrence since the 2014 state and Lok Sabha polls. 

Telangana Pradesh Congress Committee (TPCC) chief and member of Parliament from Nalgonda (seat) N. Uttam Kumar Reddy resigned from his post after his party’s debacle. While it was expected, it was evidently a little too late, given that the Congress under his leadership lost two elections and two major bye-elections under him since 2018.   

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“Right now everyone is a leader. We have to see what will happen,” said a Congress functionary, when asked who will be the next probable TPCC chief. Another Congress leader and ex-MLA who did not want to be quoted stated that it will take some time for the next president to be chosen. “Whoever it is, must be a loyalist. Otherwise, the party will not grow,” he told siasat.com

The second Congress leader quoted above added that though there were many groups in the party earlier, none were reportedly in favour of Uttar Kumar Reddy, who no one seemed to have nice things to say about. Under Uttam Kumar Reddy, the Congress lost the 2018 state elections and managed to win just three parliamentary seats. Worse, 12 of the 19 MLAs in the state also defected to the TRS. 

Uttam Kumar Reddy had resigned from the Huzurnagar assembly seat after winning the Nalgonda Lok Sabha seat in 2019. However, his popularity took a beating when his wife Padmavathi contested from Huzurnagar seat in the ensuing bye-election and lost by a huge margin of over 40,000 votes to the TRS. 

Right after the 2018 state polls and the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, many had called for the resignation of Uttam Kumar Reddy. Currently, the Congress in Telangana is in a precarious state. Party treasurer Gudur Narayana Reddy and actress-turned-politician Vijayashanti also shifted to the BJP a few days ago, while others like former cabinet minister D. K. Aruna having shifted much earlier. 

Konda Vishweshwar Reddy, former TRS MP, who is currently in the Congress, has also indicated that he will shift to the BJP. “BJP leaders at public-private events also remark openly that Revanth Reddy will soon join them,” the ex-MLA quoted above said. Malkajgiri MP and TPCC working president Revanth Reddy had joined the Congress after leaving the Telugu Desam Party in 2017. 

Revanth, a fire-brand leader is a known critic of TRS supremo and chief minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao (KCR), who many believe was vying for the Congress’s top post. However, it is yet to be seen if he also goes to the BJP. “The basic issue within the Congress is that there is too much democracy, in the sense that its leaders will try to outdo each other,” said political analyst Palwai Raghavendra Reddy. 

He pointed out that earlier when the Congress was a dominant force in the state and also in the erstwhile state of Andhra Pradesh, even if there were different factions, all would fall in line with the Gandhi family.

“That family has unfortunately now given up. So these leaders will not align to one power centre. This will be a huge damaging factor for the party across India. Someone has to come at the top and bind them together,” Raghavendra Reddy added. 

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