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As Telangana Sees a Triangular Fight, Parties Accuse Rivals of Collusion

N. Rahul
Apr 23, 2024
The Congress and the BJP accuse each other of having an understanding with the BRS. For BRS part, it sees a secret pact between the BJP and Congress.

Hyderabad: ‘Collusion’ is one of the dominant poll narratives in Telangana. With the state witnessing a triangular fight, each party has been alleging collusion by the other two to defeat it.

The Congress party led by state president and chief minister A. Revanth Reddy has accused the Bharat Rashtra Samiti (BRS) and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of reaching a secret understanding to defeat the Congress.

Revanth Reddy has accused in various election rallies that the BRS had fielded weak candidates to ensure the transfer of its votes to aid the victory of BJP in at least five parliamentary constituencies – Mahabubnagar, Chevella, Malkajgiri, Bhongir, and Zaheerabad.

Illustration: Pariplab Chakraborty

According to Reddy, the BRS brokered a deal with Prime Minister Narendra Modi to secure bail for Kavitha, daughter of the former party’s president K. Chandrasekhar Rao, who was arrested by Central investigating agencies in the Delhi liquor scam case.

Similarly, BRS MLA and former minister T. Harish Rao claimed that the Congress had fielded weak candidates in three seats – Malkajgiri, Secunderabad and Chevella – to help the BJP win.

Rao also said that the BRS had become the target of Congress and BJP connivance while the same was the narrative of the BJP that the Congress and BRS combine was working to its defeat.

The BJP candidate from Karimnagar and sitting MP Bandi Sanjay Kumar went to the extent of even blaming the delay by Congress in announcing its candidate from the constituency as proof of connivance by the party with BRS.

Harish Rao, on the other hand, said it was the Congress and BJP who were hand in glove in delaying the finalisation of the Congress candidate in Karimnagar.

The newly elected Rajya Sabha member of Congress Renuka Chowdary asked why the BRS and BJP were so excited about the delay in the declaration of Congress candidates. “They must worry about their candidates slipping away and joining other parties after their candidatures were finalised,” she said.

She said this in reaction to a BRS candidate Kavya, daughter of former minister Kadiam Srihari, quitting the party to join Congress after she was declared as BRS candidate from Warangal. Kavya was again given a ticket by Congress from the same seat.

The Congress had not announced its candidates till Tuesday (April 23) morning for Khammam, Karimnagar and Hyderabad constituencies.

War of words

The election campaign was notable for Revanth Reddy and former chief minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao using the choicest words, bordering on vulgarity, to attack each other. A comment by Rao blaming Congress leaders for giving a call to women allegedly to sell condoms and papads to make a living invited a show cause notice from the Election Commission. Rao requested the EC to extend the deadline to send his reply.

Rao’s threat that 20 to 30 MLAs of Congress were ready to join BRS received instant reaction from Congress. Its leadership claimed 25 MLAs of BRS were in touch to join the party.

Revanth Reddy has said on many occasions that if the Congress had lifted the “floodgates” of BRS there would be no one left in the party, except Rao, his son K. T. Rao, daughter Kavitha and nephew Harish Rao.

“I’m like a high-tension wire around Congress MLAs. You will be reduced to ashes if you try to touch them”, Reddy warned.

The war of words between Reddy and Rao went to the extent of body shaming each other. Hinting at Reddy, Rao said at a public meeting that people come across amusing scenes in politics sometimes.

“Lilliputs also get power sometimes”, he remarked in direct reference to the short physical stature of Reddy. This was in response to another nasty comment by Reddy about the innerwear of Rao.

In the midst of heated exchanges between the two parties, K. T. Rama Rao and Harish Rao kept the heat alive saying Revanth Reddy will join the BJP with 30 Congress MLAs immediately after parliament elections. Rao asked Reddy to accept challenge to resign their respective Assembly seats and seek reelection to prove their worth.

The BJP state president G. Kishan Reddy reminded that the DNA of BRS, Congress and the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) was the same.

The All India Congress Committee general secretary in-charge of organisation K. C. Venugopal who was on a visit to Hyderabad to meet the party candidates and other senior leaders said the party will fight against the BJP and not BRS as it had become weak after Assembly elections and exodus of party leaders in search of greener pastures.

Chandrasekhar Rao also told a meeting of BRS candidates that when the BJP at the Centre could attempt to pull down his government with 104 MLAs, how could one believe the party would spare the Congress government of 64 MLAs?

Reacting to the arrest of his daughter and MLC Kavitha for the first time, he said it was a vindictive step of the BJP. The arrest was in retaliation to the search by police of Telangana for BJP national general secretary in-charge of organisation B.L. Santosh in the case related to the poaching of four BRS MLAs by alleged middlemen of BJP.

The campaign trail saw the BRS highlighting the 10-year misrule of the BJP at the Centre and the failures of Congress, mainly election promises, in four months of its government.

The Congress boasted of delivering five of six guarantees given to people in Assembly elections. The BJP projected the popular image of Modi in seeking a fresh mandate.

Professor M. Kodandaram who was recommended by Revanth Reddy government for appointment as MLC in the governor’s quota but failed to take office so far as the file is pending in Raj Bhavan due to some legal issues felt it was too early to predict electoral prospects at this stage.

But, he said the organisational network of BRS was intact.

This was lacking in the BJP though the party had a strong base in erstwhile Adilabad and Nizamabad districts where it won seven out of its eight Assembly seats. The BJP was mainly banking on Modi’s image and the individual strength of its candidates, he added.

The strength of Congress was bolstered after Assembly elections with three MLAs of BRS joining the party, taking its tally to 67 in the House of 119 members. Three sitting MPs, four former MLAs and several leaders of BRS also joined the Congress.

The Congress has set a target of winning 14 out of 17 Parliamentary constituencies. The BJP hoped to achieve a double-digit score and the BRS also expected to win eight to ten seats. In the last elections in 2019, the BRS won nine, BJP four, Congress three and AIMIM one seats.

The Congress has kept a special focus on winning Adilabad, Nizamabad, Chevella, Malkajgiri, Secunderabad and Mahbubnagar constituencies.

Malkajgiri is special to Revanth Reddy because he represented the constituency in the present term of Lok Sabha till his resignation upon winning the Assembly election.

Mahbubnagar is equally important to him because the Kodangal Assembly segment, represented by him as MLA, is part of the constituency.

Revanth Reddy has accused the BRS and BJP of hatching a plot to see that the 33,000 vote majority he had secured in Assembly elections was wiped out.

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