Hyderabad: Telangana Pradesh Congress Committee president Revanth Reddy Sunday addressed a huge public gathering in the state’s Yellareddy town as part of his outreach programme to gather strength for the party. Back home in Hyderabad, a group of disgruntled senior state leaders, who like to call themselves Congress “loyalists”, held a closed-door meeting, without him.
The subject at the gathering, held in a private hotel, was Reddy and his style of functioning. At least three senior party leaders, including an elected representative, expressed dissent against the state unit chief.
The meeting, which was not the first such one, highlights the division within the Telangana Congress, that has the group of senior discontented leaders on one side and Revanth Reddy and his supporters on the other.
Former minister and veteran state Congress leader Marri Shashidhar Reddy, who was at the meeting, alleged that “decisions” within the state unit were being taken unilaterally, and that there was no channel of proper communication within the party.
“There are no regular discussions about the decisions to be taken with all leaders, and there is no proper communication about activities being done. It appears that the new PCC chief is too focused on boosting his self-image than the party’s. I see traits of former chief minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy in him. He was also the same in the 1980s when he became the PCC chief, and it took him 20 years to gain trust and come to power,” Shashidhar Reddy told ThePrint.
Revanth Reddy was appointed TPCC president in July last year by Rahul Gandhi himself, at the cost of other senior state leaders who were hoping to get the post. His elevation to the top within four years of joining the Congress had then too caused some heartache, and now the “loyalists” are turning up the heat on him.
Shashidhar Reddy, who was earlier chairman of the party’s election coordination committee, had resigned days after Revanth Reddy took over as PCC chief.
“We are not against Revanth Reddy as an individual, we are only upset that the party is not operating the way it has to under the new PCC chief. We call ourselves the ‘loyalists’ forum’, because we have been loyal to the party and cannot see it in such a pathetic condition,” Shashidhar Reddy explained.
He also pointed out that Sunday’s meeting would not be the last and that such gatherings were being held for the past three years as a “necessity” to bring things to the Congress high command’s notice.
He refuted reports of the high command asking the state leaders to refrain from the meetings, and said there had been “no communication” from the high command yet.
Reacting to Sunday’s meeting, Telangana Congress’ working president Mahesh Kumar Goud said such activities would only spoil the image of the Congress.
“There is democracy in the party. Senior leaders are respected and their advice is much needed. That being said, such disgruntled behaviour will only defame the party and those leaders will be responsible for the same,” Goud said Monday.
“If they have any personal issues, they can let the leadership know and it can be resolved. AICC is monitoring all of this, the rest is up to those senior leaders now. It is not appreciated that they speak about the party in such a manner,” he added.
ThePrint approached Revanth Reddy’s team for a comment through phone calls, but did not receive a response until the time of publication of this report.
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‘No course correction’
Shashidhar Reddy had held a similar meeting on 14 March at his residence, at which former minister Geetha Reddy, MLA Sridhar Babu, and former PCC chief Ponnala Lakshmaiah were present.
Giving an example of lack of joint decision-making in the Telangana party unit, Shashidhar Reddy said: “For instance, the PCC chief is holding a ‘Mana ooru mana poru (our village, our fight)’ programme in districts and that decision was taken entirely by the political affairs committee and not discussed with any other leaders.”
The political affairs committee usually comprises the party’s president, working presidents, general secretaries etc.
“There have been instances when the PCC chief was visiting a certain constituency and the local district leader was informed, but the party’s working president of that zone was uninformed,” he alleged, adding that “there is no continuity of programmes once taken up”.
“Under Reddy, the Huzurabad election was an absolute disaster, but there was no course correction. The crowd will not convert to votes,” he added. The Congress put up a dismal performance in the bypoll to the seat late last year.
Another Congress leader told ThePrint on the condition of anonymity that “the party held an outreach programme ‘Dalita Girijana Dandora’ (for the Dalit community), but the decision for the same was taken by the top leader and his unit”.
“Plans were already chalked out, the chief’s men were already sent to districts to identify locations for public meetings and then a meeting was held with all senior leaders. There too, there wasn’t much discussion, just informing the team,” this leader added.
Another leader who attended Sunday’s meeting was Sangareddy MLA Jayaprakash Reddy (Jagga Reddy), who last month contemplated leaving the party and was also one of the first to talk against the PCC chief’s leadership.
He recently dared Revanth Reddy to field a man of his choice against him in the next assembly elections, and said he would reveal the wrongdoings of detractors within the party if any action was taken against him.
Party sources indicated that Jagga Reddy was upset at not being given enough responsibility in the party despite being a TPCC “working president”.
A statement from Revanth Reddy Monday, however, said that in the wake of Jagga Reddy’s earlier letter to the high command about his wish to remain independent, he has been stripped of handling any responsibilities.
The Congress leader mentioned above said “these issues are inevitable in the Telangana Congress because the monopoly approach of the top leadership has increased”.
“If leaders who have been with the party loyally for more than three decades are being side-lined and not given responsibilities, they will obviously be upset. The PCC chief went to his (Jagga Reddy’s) constituency and did not inform him once,” the leader added.
(Edited by Nida Fatima Siddiqui)
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