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‘Won’t be a home guard’: Telangana Congress leader quits, slams high command in letter to Sonia

Shashidhar Reddy had met BJP leader Amit Shah last week & was then expelled from party. In his letter, he lashed out at senior leaders including Revanth Reddy & KC Venugopal.

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Hyderabad: Veteran Congress leader Marri Shashidhar Reddy resigned from the party Tuesday in Telangana, three days after he was expelled following his meeting with Union Home Minister Amit Shah in New Delhi.

Announcing his decision to quit, Reddy wrote a scathing letter to Congress leader Sonia Gandhi, saying he would “not be a home guard” to the Congress. He went on to slam the party, its way of functioning, and Telangana state leaders, including Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) president Revanth Reddy.

Shashidhar Reddy, 73, is the son of late Congress chief minister of undivided Andhra Pradesh, Marri Channa Reddy. He has been a four-time MLA from Sanathnagar, was a Congress minister in undivided Andhra Pradesh in 1993, and served as a vice-chairman of the National Disaster Management Authority.

Reddy’s resignation comes at a time when the Congress is facing decline in Telangana, stiff competition from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), and is struggling to carve out an opposition space in the state currently ruled by the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS).

In his eight-page letter, Reddy accused the Congress high command of following “a corporate style of functioning” and “insisting” on a hierarchy with “in-charges of states in total control”.

These “in-charges”, wrote Reddy, could never grasp the state politics and did not make attempts to review strengths and weaknesses in the organisation. Not just the local leadership, the high command’s behaviour has been disappointing, he said.

Reddy further alleged that Congress general secretary K. C. Venugopal and Telangana in-charge Manickam Tagore, who resigned from the post last month, “were partisan towards Revanth Reddy”, who took over as PCC chief last year.

“There are numerous instances of how Venugopal and Tagore conducted themselves right from the beginning… Suffice to say that they have been partisan and refused to listen to or entertain anything against Revanth Reddy. Venugopal never responded to our requests for a meeting to discuss Telangana Congress affairs. They failed to reach out to discuss party affairs in Telangana with me or other seniors,” he wrote in the letter sent Tuesday.

Also Read: From Naxalite to lawyer to MLA, now with PhD: Meet Seethakka, Congress ‘phenomenon’ in Telangana

On Congress ‘home guards’ & Telangana failures

Reddy observed that the Congress failed to take political mileage out of the fact that it had made the dream of separate Telangana (carved out of Andhra Pradesh in 2014) come true. He said the TRS and Chief Minister K. Chandrashekar Rao took away credit for the same.

The Congress Working Committee had on 30 July, 2013, unanimously passed a resolution to recommend the formation of a separate Telangana state. The state was officially formed on 2 June, 2014, with the TRS coming to power in the subsequent elections.

According to Reddy, the Congress has witnessed a steady decline in Telangana since 2014, and people have lost confidence in the party.

In his letter, Shashidhar Reddy also lashed out at Revanth Reddy for his comment on how senior leaders were only “home guards”.

He noted that “when Telangana MP Venkat Reddy was made a star campaigner, he had pointed out how he got the post after serving in the party for 34 years — to which Revanth Reddy reacted by saying that ‘even after 34 years, a home guard will be a home guard — will not even be promoted as a constable and person who passes civils (civil services exam) will become an SP (superintendent of police) and a home guard cannot stop an SP from sitting in his chair’”. 

“This is the arrogance of Revanth Reddy. He has effectively said that all senior Congress leaders were only ‘home guards’, and this is an insult to all those who have served the party over the years. Today onwards, I will not be a home guard to the Congress,” Reddy wrote.

Not the first time

This is not the first time that Reddy expressed his discontent against the Telangana Congress leadership, specifically Revanth Reddy.

In March, Reddy along with a few other senior leaders who called themselves the “Congress loyalists’ group”, had turned the heat against the PCC chief, alleging that “decisions” within the state unit were being taken unilaterally, and that there was no proper channel of communication within the party.

In Tuesday’s letter, Reddy pointed out how the loyalists’ forum repeatedly wrote to Sonia Gandhi urging the appointment of one of the “loyalists” as successor to former PCC chief Uttam Kumar Reddy (who served in the post from 2015 to 2021), but that didn’t happen.

Reddy alleged that “money” played a significant role in the PCC chief’s selection, pointing to allegations that Revanth Reddy paid Rs 50 crore to Tagore and Venugopal for the post. He also called Tagore the “worst Congressman” ever.

Reddy wrote that a certain “hype” was built about Revanth Reddy — that he would turn around the party’s fortunes in Telangana — “but failed miserably”.

He pointed out that the Congress lost two crucial by-polls — Huzurabad and Munugode — under Revanth Reddy’s leadership. Munugode was once a Congress stronghold.

Reddy further alleged that “Revanth Reddy (had) promised to pay around Rs 2 lakh to all district-level presidents”.

He also lashed out at former PCC chief Uttam Reddy for “compromised leadership with serious erosion of credibility”.

The Congress had contested the 2018 Telangana polls under Uttam Reddy’s leadership. While the party had won 19 seats, more than a dozen of its legislators defected to the TRS and other parties after the election — a fact that stripped the Congress of its principal opposition status in the state.

“The Congress has relegated itself to an unenviable third position in the state and is in no position to challenge the TRS in the next election. The Congress has failed the people of Telangana by failing to function as an effective opposition and protect their interests,” Reddy noted.

Adding that his priority was “Telangana-first”, Reddy said he was resigning to pursue viable options.

(Edited by Nida Fatima Siddiqui)

Also read: ‘20-yr project’: In Andhra where it has 0 seats, Congress hopes Bharat Jodo will be an ‘opening’

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