Hyderabad: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi held an internal state executive committee meeting in Telangana Saturday, where he told the party cadre not to come to Delhi asking for tickets to contest the 2023 assembly polls as these attempts would only “backfire”. He added that tickets would be given purely on merit basis, and to those who have worked in their constituencies.
“I know Hyderabad’s biryani and chai is good, but it is time to leave Hyderabad and get to your villages, streets and start working,” he said.
Rahul, who is a member of Parliament (MP) from Wayanad, stressed that independent feedback from the ground would be taken into consideration before finalising candidates in next year’s assembly polls in Telangana.
“I am stressing on this again that tickets will be given only on merit basis. Those who just sit in Hyderabad will not get tickets, do not make this mistake. And do not come to Delhi at all, it would only backfire. Go to your constituencies, go to your villages, get to the streets, and start working. All of you are very capable and there is no dearth of it…the tickets will be given to you by the people,” he said during the meeting.
The Congress leader also said that it is extremely important for the party to stay “united” to achieve their goal of forming government in Telangana.
Rahul’s visit comes weeks after a few disgruntled senior Congress leaders, who like to call themselves Congress “loyalists”, held a closed-door meeting where they allegedly discussed Telangana Pradesh Congress Committee president Revanth Reddy — who was chosen by Rahul for the post — and disapproved of his style of functioning.
Meanwhile, other political parties are already in preparation mode for the elections. For instance, the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi has for the first time hired the Indian Political Action Committee (I-PAC), which was earlier led by political strategist Prashant Kishor.
Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao has also held meetings with Kishor in Hyderabad.
‘Congress will never ally with TRS’
Stressing that Congress will never have any alliance or understanding with the TRS, and will independently fight the elections, Rahul warned that if any Congress leader still had doubts on the same, they would be removed from the party irrespective of their stature.
While addressing a ‘Rythu Sangharshana Sabha’, a gathering organised for farmers, in Warangal Friday, the Congress leader referred to the CM as a “raja” (king) who does not believe in democracy and takes his own decisions.
“Our party will never have any understanding with such a raja who does not believe in giving space to opinions of people, who has cheated the people of Telangana and ruined their dreams…People of Telangana wanted a separate state and Congress understood the fight and gave a separate state,” Rahul said.
Soon after, TRS working president and Telangana Minister KT Rama Rao tweeted: “Political tourists will come and go, only KCR garu here to stay in Telangana.”
‘Farmers and cadre motivation were focus of visit’
While speaking at the ‘Rythu Sangharshana Sabha’, Rahul announced a ‘Warangal Declaration’, promising sops for the farming community such as MSP for all crops and loan waiver up to Rs 2 lakh if Congress is voted to power in the state.
State Congress leaders ThePrint spoke to said Rahul’s visit to Telangana had two primary objectives — one, to focus on the agrarian sector and give farmers confidence that Congress will work for them, and two, to motivate the cadre.
“This time the message on tickets being given on merit basis was loud and clear. I don’t think he stressed on it so much during his previous visits or earlier elections. There was definitely some motivation to the cadre. How long it will sustain is something that remains to be seen,” said senior party leader Marri Shashidhar Reddy.
“For the past 1.5 years, the Congress party has had internal issues and keeping that in mind, Rahul Gandhi’s visit was also planned. The message has been given to the party that we are all one and there is no space for individual image building in the party,” said Congress MLA Jagga Reddy.
Another party leader on condition of anonymity told ThePrint this was not the first time that the top leadership had spoken about tickets being given on merit basis.
“Let’s see how much they will consider this and keep lobbying teams aside while giving tickets. For instance, last time Rahul Gandhi spoke about how youth will be given tickets, and not one member below the age of 40 years was given tickets in the last state elections,” the leader added.
(Edited by Gitanjali Das)