Will Revanth Reddy’s entry improve Congress’ prospects?

Hyderabad, Oct 22: The realignment of political forces in Telangana appears to have started with Telugu Desam Party’s state working president A. Revanth Reddy reportedly deciding to join the Congress party.

Revanth took the decision after he met Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi in New Delhi this week. The central leadership of the party gave its nod for Revanth’s formal entry.

A bitter critic of Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao, Revanth is likely to join the Congress after assembly session, beginning next week.

The switching of loyalties by the TDP leader is expected to bolster Congress ranks, especially in his home district of Mahabubnagar. Political observers feel this could be the beginning of the realignment of forces in the run up to 2019 elections.

Revanth’s entry into Congress may mean end of the road for TDP in Telangana as the party has already lost 12 MLAs to ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS).

Though several legislators of Congress also joined TRS during last three years, the main opposition party is still seen as a strong force which can provide an alternative to TRS.

The trade union elections in Singareni Colleries earlier this month was a prelude to the realignment of forces as the TDP and Congress and joined hands with the Communist Part of India (CPI) to take on the trade union affiliated to TRS.

Though the trade union affiliated to TRS retained power, its margin of victory came down compared to 2012 elections due to the unity among opposition parties.

Revanth believes that the next elections will be between two formations – one led by KCR and the other opposing him. He is hopeful that the Communist parties and Telangana Joint Action Committee would also join hands with Congress in taking on the TRS.

The ruling party, however, is still hopeful that the presence of BJP, which claims to be the only alternative to TRS, would divide the anti-government votes and help it retain the power.

KCR doesn’t favour a direct fight between the TRS and the Congress, but prefers a triangular or multi-cornered contest since the BJP is set to field candidates in almost all Assembly constituencies.

TRS leaders are confident that BJP will increase its vote share by 3 to 5 percent to divide the opposition votes.

The decision of Revanth to switch loyalties has dealt a big blow to the party. However, his allegations that some ministers of Andhra Pradesh got contracts worth thousands of crores from KCR government has embarrassed the party.

TDP general secretary and Andhra Pradesh IT minister Nara Lokesh rushed to Hyderabad to douse the ‘fire’ within the party.

Revanth not only made the sensational allegations against his own party leaders but also questioned the view in a section of the party to join hands with TRS.

He also lashed out at the party for rolling out red-carpet for KCR when he visited Anantapur to earlier this month to attend the marriage of Paritala Sunitha’s son. He reminded TDP leaders that it was KCR who sent him to jail in cash-for-vote scam, the case which also allegedly involves TDP president and Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu.

Interestingly, even after making the allegations and amid reports of his imminent entry into Congress, Revanth attended the TTDP politburo meeting on Friday. The meeting chaired by party’s state president L. Ramna ended abruptly as the party stood completely divided.

M. Narasimhulu and Aravind Kumar Goud questioned Revanth Reddy about his meeting with Rahul Gandhi without taking prior permission from Chandrababu Naidu.

Revanth Reddy countered Narsimhulu, asking him whether he had the permission of Chandrababu Naidu to announce that the TDP was likely to forge an alliance with the TRS in the 2019 general election. As Revanth Reddy stood his ground, Narasimhulu and Goud walked out of the meeting. The two leaders said later that they had walked out of the meeting as they were not satisfied with the replies given by Revanth Reddy.

The reports of Revanth’s entry into Congress has also led to some bickering in the main opposition party.

A section of leaders are not happy with the leadership meeting his demands including 11 MLA tickets. Referring to the talk that Revanth may be given the Congress Campaign Committee chairperson’s post, they urged the high command  not to give him such a coveted post as that would help him give tickets to his followers in the 2019 polls at the cost of senior Congress leaders.

It remains to be seen how much his entry would improve the prospects of the Congress in the next polls.

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