If Telangana Congress rebels caused embarrassment to the party by deciding to contest the assembly polls, further rot in the ranks was stymied by a Congress panel comprising Pondicherry CM Narayana Swamy and health minister Malladi Krishna Rao, and Karnataka irrigation minister D.K. Shiva Kumar. They managed to convince 25-30 of the 40 rebels—all angry at being denied tickets—to withdraw from the fray. Seven still remain adamant, posing a threat to the Praja Kutami alliance.
Lack of understanding among alliance partners has seen TJS, headed by Prof. Kodandaram, to suffer the worst. The party is furious with the Congress issuing B-forms—that is, fielding official candidates—in five of the eight constituencies allotted to the TJS as part of seat-sharing. As a reprisal, the TJS issued B-forms to its candidates in 14 constituencies.Constituencies where TJS faces Congress rebels include Dubbaka (Medak), Warangal East, Khanapur and Asifabad (both in Adilabad district)—all allotted to them.
The CPI, which had been given three seats, also faces Congress rebels in them. A. Chandrasekhar Rao is fighting as an independent in Vikarabad, while another rebel, D. Nayak, who switched to the BSP, entered the fray to challenge the CPI candidate in Devarakonda constituency in Nalgonda district.
This, in spite of the Congress panel assuring them of suitable ‘reward’, either as MLCs or as chairpersons of state-owned corporations, if they helped the Grand Old Party in the elections.
Says senior Congress leader Marri Sashidhar Reddy, who was denied a ticket: “I am hurt. Not for being denied a ticket, but for my contribution being ignored. I wonder if being loyal to the party is more a curse than an asset.” Reddy says it was he who challenged the TRS government’s decision to advance the polls—that too, without adhering to revision of electoral rolls, which is a clear violation—by moving the Supreme Court. That resulted in the court directing the Election Commission to set new deadline for completion of revision of electoral rolls. “Similarly, I have filed another PIL against the TRS government over the delimitation of eight mandals in Khammam district.” Although the SC dismissed the case, Reddy vows not to give up the fight. Reddy, however, has not entered the fray and promised the high-command that he will work for Kutami’s success.
For Sashidhar Reddy, son of former chief minister M. Chenna Reddy, the denial of ticket has come as a ‘shock’, and that too when his family is preparing for the centenary celebrations of his late father in January 2019.
“It was my father who had sown the seeds for a separate statehood movement in 1967. Shouldn’t the party high command grab that ‘claim’ to challenge KCR, whose statehood movement in early 2000 was no match by any yardstick?”