Will go to people with our poll symbol, not just any CM candidate, says Telangana Congress leader Reddy | Latest India News

With just a year and a half to go before the Telangana parliamentary elections, Congress is gearing up for a life-and-death battle to wrest power from the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi.

Leading the front, Telangana Pradesh Congress Committee Chairman and MP for Malkajgiri constituency, Anumula Revanth Reddy, is battling against all odds, including resistance from senior party officials to his leadership.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s two-day visit to Telangana on May 6 should provide much-needed confidence to party cadres.

In conversation with Srinivasa Rao ApparasuReddy talks about his struggles, the significance of Gandhi’s visit and how he hopes to cement his position and lead the party to victory in the upcoming elections.

Excerpts from the interview:

The Telangana Congress seems to be grappling with several inherent problems. What is the impact of Rahul Gandhi’s visit to Telangana on the party’s prospects?

Rahul Gandhi’s visit will certainly give a lot of encouragement and enthusiasm to the leaders and cadres of the party. It will bring cohesion to the party, which will promote collective teamwork. The dissatisfactions, the differences of opinion were part of it and I hope that with his visit, everything will be sorted out.

Rahul Gandhi’s visit to Telangana will also give a lot of confidence to the people of Telangana, especially the farming community which has suffered greatly during the eight years of the TRS regime. Its public meeting in Warangal focuses solely on the agricultural sector; it will give moral strength to the agricultural community.

We will publish a statement from Warangal on the agricultural sector. While exposing the failures of government, we mean what Congress will do to farmers, if given the power.

You seem to have become more assertive after Rahul’s meeting with the Telangana Congress leaders on April 4. How did you overcome resistance from seniors within the party?

The meeting with the leader certainly gave me a lot of confidence and I understood how to work with others and how to handle critical issues.

Rahul was serious about some of our leaders who wanted to greet KCR (Telangana CM K Chandrasekhar Rao) on his birthday. He made it clear to us that KCR is our enemy and that we don’t have to show any courtesy to him. He told everyone that the party is supreme and no one is above the party workers. His words gave me psychological strength.

I don’t make a difference between seniors and juniors. I will take everyone’s advice, but implement what is best for the party. As captain, I have to make a final decision and everyone has to follow the party hierarchy.

What do you think are the strengths and weaknesses of the Telangana Congress ahead of next year’s parliamentary elections?

I don’t think we have any weaknesses. We are strong enough to win elections. Sometimes we may have failed to show our strength. KCR might have shown more strength, especially in its marketing itself. But he has now exhausted all his weapons, including Telangana sentiment. After rubbing shoulders with Andhra industrialists, spiritual and political leaders, he lost his connection with Telangana sentiment. Now we are confident to prove our strength.

The BJP seems to be emerging as a potential rival to the TRS after the Huzurabad partial poll. How will Congress deal with this tough contest of TRS and BJP?

Telangana never witnessed a direct fight in an election and there were only multifaceted contests everywhere. But the people had only chosen between two suitors and ignored the others. This was proven in the four by-elections held after the 2019 general elections – in Huzurnagar, Dubbak, Nagarjunasagar and Huzurabad.

Now people have decided to vote against the TRS. They will only vote for the party they believe to be a serious competitor against the TRS. There are no better electoral strategists than voters. In my opinion, as the assembly elections approach, the BJP will be knocked out of the game. Despite the presence of other parties, the fight will be between the TRS and the Congress.

In the recent past, many small parties have entered the political arena in Telangana – like YSR Telangana Party, BSP, Aam Aadmi Party, etc. Don’t you think they will split the anti-incumbent vote?

I do not think so. In fact, these parties help to reinforce anti-establishment. They create a mood against the KCR government and people will be motivated to think which is the right party to defeat the TRS. They will come to Congress.

But KCR seems to be of the opinion that the TRS will benefit from the struggle between two major national parties.

It’s his wishful thinking. KCR is trying to project the BJP as the main villain so that they get the hero image. In 2014, he cast the people of Andhra as villains; In 2018, he showed TDP Chairman N Chandrababu Naidu as the villain and won the polls. Now people from Andhra or Chandrababu Naidu are no longer problems. So he tries to portray BJP and Modi as villains.

In 2018, you joined the TDP to form a grand alliance. Do you want to go alone this time or will you have an alliance with another party?

It’s too early to say anything about this and I’m not allowed to make any decisions to fight alone or forge alliances. High Command will take a call at election time.

Who do you think you will fight at TRS? KCR or his son KTR (KT Rama Rao)?

I think KTR will be the face of TRS in the next election. KCR is like a demonetized 1000 currency note, which used to have a high value but has become invalid now. KCR also lost its validity in Telangana. It has a history, but no future. So he will project his son, who is like a new 500 tickets, to sell the TRS to the people.

Who is the face of Congress in Telangana, then?

The “hand” symbol itself is the face of Congress. We will go to the people with our electoral symbol only and not to any CM candidate.


  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Srinivasa Rao is Deputy Editor based in Hyderabad covering developments in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. He has over three decades of reporting experience.
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James V. Hayes