Hyderabad: Gandhi Bhavan, the office of Telangana Pradesh Congress Committee, was bustling with leaders as the party’s top gun Digvijaya Singh entered the premises Thursday, with a mission — to ‘cool down’ a group of disgruntled state leaders up in arms against state Congress chief Revanth Reddy. With Singh still in conversation with state leaders, slogans of ‘Senior Congress Zindabad’ were reportedly heard at the TPCC office.
Singh held one-on-one meetings with each leader, patiently listening to their feedback and taking notes, resulting in a ‘positive meeting’ with Singh which seemed to have calmed the leaders down.
The Rajya Sabha MP and former chief minister of Madhya Pradesh arrived in Hyderabad Wednesday amid infighting within the party’s Telangana unit. A group of nine (G9) prominent senior leaders had last week held closed door meetings to ‘save Congress’ from Revanth Reddy, alleging that ‘newcomers’ in the party were being prioritised over old-timers, and that there was lack of coordination between the PCC and the senior leadership.
While pointing out that a majority of those who made it to the newly-appointed party functionary committees were with Chandrababu Naidu’s Telugu Desam Party (TDP) earlier, the leaders had complained that this was a sign of Congress loyalists being sidelined. The G9, backed by several lower rung cadres, had also alleged that senior leaders were being kept out of the decision-making process by the Telangana PCC leadership.
The issue caught the high command’s attention after senior Telangana Congress leaders held a press conference and wrote a letter to the party’s central leadership.
“It was a positive meeting. Digvijaya Singh is a very experienced man and he patiently listened to the feedback we gave. He met prominent leaders privately and each meeting lasted for about 10-15 minutes. All our feedback will be compiled into a report and submitted to the High Command, he noted down everything,” former deputy chief minister Damodar Raja Narasimha, who is among the disgruntled senior leaders, told ThePrint.
Hoping that the discussion with Singh would bring about a resolution, Narasimha added: “We’re not against the party, we want to work together. But, there has to be certain parameters about seniority, credibility and how to be united. One cannot just do things they like. We’re entering election year and the party has to stay together.”
Telangana Congress leaders, who spoke to ThePrint on condition of anonymity, said Singh met about 20 leaders — including the G9 and those close to Reddy — and questioned them, especially senior leaders, about work done in their constituencies and their differences with the state leadership.
One party leader explained: “Senior leaders were also told how they need to maintain decorum and avoid displaying the party’s dirty laundry in public. These seniors are all leaders who once held posts. Leaders were also told that Singh will also meet Revanth Reddy in Delhi.”
Speaking to the media Friday, Singh said a probe will be initiated if such instances of infighting come out in the open again. “I request all senior leaders with folded hands that any such talks should be done within the party and with the leadership, there is no need for blaming each other, levelling allegations. Also, such instances should not repeat and if they do, the party will take action no matter how senior the leader is,” he said. Adding, “I have spoken to all the leaders, heard them out patiently, we will resolve these issues.”
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Digvijaya Singh a ‘political formula’
Jeevan Reddy, Congress Member of Legislative Council (MLC) from Karimnagar, said the discussions centred on the ruling party — Bharat Rashtra Samiti (BRS) — and how to strengthen the Congress in Telangana before the 2023 assembly elections.
“He (Singh) has been sent here on behalf of the high command. And there are definitely differences of opinion within the party and to subside them, Digvijaya has come. Issues will be sorted out, it’s just that it will take time,” Reddy, who met Singh for 15 minutes in private, told ThePrint.
Expressing hope of a resolution of differences within the party’s state unit, Congress MLA Jagga Reddy — also part of G9 — termed Singh as a ‘political formula’. Reddy, however, did not meet Singh at the party’s office but met him at a hotel earlier in the day.
A senior Telangana Congress leader, who did not wish to be named, said differences between senior leaders and the PCC chief unearthed last week had been simmering for several months and Singh was told about these issues when he was in Telangana last month for the Bharat Jodo Yatra (BJY).
“Once Revanth Reddy became the PCC, senior leaders’ communication was cut off with the high command. Revanth became the sole point of communication. Sending Digvijay Singh to Hyderabad is an attempt to massage the egos of senior leaders. The situation would deteriorate further if the high command ignored this infighting, especially after the leaders came out in public,” the leader said.
The leader claimed Reddy had requested Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra’s office to look into the matter.
Adding, “Singh’s tour to Hyderabad will benefit Revanth Reddy more because it has calmed down the senior leaders for now. It’s not like he did not know these issues, Singh was told all these issues during BJY and no action was taken post that. Not like we will see an immediate action now, this is more to cool down the discontent leaders.”
(Edited by Amrtansh Arora)
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