Congress Reposes Faith in Reddys to Defeat KCR’s TRS and Win Telangana
Out of 75 candidates declared by the Congress so far, 29 are from the Reddy caste. Even though the Reddys are about 12% in the state they enjoy enormous political and economic clout disproportionate to their population.
File photo of Congress chief Rahul Gandhi. (PTI)
Hyderabad: A few days before the UPA–2 okayed the formation of Telangana by bifurcating Andhra Pradesh, TRS chief K Chandrashekar Rao met a top Congress leader and told him that he would merge his party with the Congress after Parliament clears Telangana Bill and become the chief minister.
The seasoned Congress leader, from the powerful Reddy caste, told KCR that it was foolish of him to expect the Congress to make him the CM as the party would go only for a Reddy to lead them in the state.
According to TRS insiders, KCR then realised that the Congress was taking him for a ride and decided against the merger. A few months later he led the TRS to victory and became the first CM of Telangana, for the formation of which he led a massive movement for almost two decades.
Now, Telangana is facing another Assembly election and the main opposition Congress appears to be depending on the Reddy caste to wrest the state back from KCR on December 7 when the state goes to polls.
Out of 75 candidates declared by the Congress so far, 29 are from the Reddy caste. Even though the Reddys are about 12% in the state they enjoy enormous political and economic clout disproportionate to their population. Reddys have been the backbone of the Congress in united Andhra Pradesh since Independence. The Congress is now banking on the Reddys to win Telangana.
Jaganmohan Reddy’s YSRCP not fielding his candidates in Telangana is also indirectly helping the Congress to consolidate the Reddy vote behind the “Mahakutami” or “Grand Alliance” which it forged with its arch-rival TDP with the sole intention of defeating KCR.
The Congress list features a galaxy of Reddy leaders that includes Telangana Congress president N Uttam Kumar Reddy, his wife Padmavathi Reddy, powerful brothers Komatreddy Rajagopal Reddy and Komatreddy Venkat Reddy, the leader of the opposition N Jana Reddy, Vishnuvardhan Reddy, former TDP firebrand Revanth Reddy, veteran MLA DK Aruna Reddy and Suneetha Lakshma Reddy. Former CM Channa Reddy’s son and former MLA Sashidhar Reddy is also likely to get a party ticket.
The leaders of the backward classes who mostly back the TDP had sought half the seats in the 119 member Assembly for themselves. They had even met Congress president Rahul Gandhi but have managed to get only 14 seats so far. Party spokesperson Sravan Kumar, who is from the OBC community, has managed to get a ticket.
The Congress is yet to declare candidates for the remaining 18 seats which it is contesting. After long drawn seat-sharing talks, the Congress has got 93 seats, TDP 14, Telangana Joint Action Committee 8, CPI 2 and INTI party 1 seat.
According to a Congress leader, the Reddys were worried that Rahul was favouring the SCs under the influence of his advisor and SC leader K Raju. Somehow they managed to convince the party chief that only the Reddys can bring Congress back to power and he gave in.
Two important Dalit leaders Damodar Raja Narasimha and Bhatti Vikramarka are also contesting in the elections and if the party wins, they are expected to lobby for the CM’s chair. The Muslim face of the party and former minister Shabbir Ali also figures in Congress list.
Chief Minister KCR is a Velama, an upper caste which makes up only about 4% of the population in Telangana. The Congress is accusing KCR of turning TRS into a family party in which only Velamas get top priority.
The party is hoping that 27 seats in and around Hyderabad (Greater Hyderabad region) may tilt the balance in favour of “Mahakutami”.
“Hyderabad district has 14 seats and Ranga Reddy district has 13 seats. The Reddy and Kamma population is high here. Many of them are migrants from AP. There are no Telangana sentiments in this area and the TRS is also weak here. If the Congress and the TDP fight well, they can win maximum seats from, except 7 seats in Hyderabad which AIMIM of Asaduddin Owaisi is likely to win” said Dr. M V Mysura Reddy, former AP home minister and a stalwart of united AP politics.
According to political observers, TDP supremo and Andhra CM N Chandrababu Naidu is still popular in the Hyderabad region and people believe that he has put the once sleepy city of Hyderabad on the world map by setting up IT, biotechnology and other big industries during his nine-year rule between 1995 and 2004.
“If Naidu campaigns aggressively in this region, the “Mahakutami has a chance” said a senior journalist who did not wish to be named.
The “Mahakutami” is focusing on southern districts of Mahbubnagar, Hyderabad, Ranga Reddy, Nalgonda and Khammam where TRS is relatively weaker.
If at all the “Mahakutami” wins, Chandrababu Naidu considered enemy of the Reddys in AP, may play a major role in deciding who will be the CM of Telangana. But it will be more or less a Reddy, most agree.
(With inputs from Ramana Kumar PV)
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