High commands back party presidents, dissidents flounder

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Hyderabad: On a day a fire of rebellion hit the ruling Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS), quite a political black swan event, the case and cause of dissidence in both the opposition parties, the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), seems to be reaching its abyss, with the respective high command in both the national parties fully and openly backing the incumbent state unit president.

Two things have been certain since Congress president Sonia Gandhi decided to hand over the mantle of stewarding of the Telangana Congress to A. Revanth Reddy; one, that the seniors and old-timers of the party would not take to the elevation of an “outsider” kindly; and two, that no matter how much they complained against him, Sonia Gandhi was unlikely to consider the matter anymore.

Time and again, the seniors, who now call themselves “natives”, and dub those who joined the party in the last five years, especially from the Telugu Desam “migrants”, led by former PCC president and Nalgonda Lok Sabha MP N. Uttam Kumar Reddy, CLP leader and former LoP Mallu Bhatti Vikramarka, former deputy CM (of united AP) Damodar Raja Narasimha, former MPs V. Hanumantha Rao and Madhu Yaskhi Goud, MLA and TPCC working president Jagga Reddy, have been protesting against the leadership of Revanth Reddy.

Several complaints and protests, including letters written to the former national party president Sonia Gandhi and present AICC president Mallikarjun Kharge drew little response, save one open meeting, in which Kharge completely backed the TPCC president, and advised seniors to not leak any information to the media and work for the party to come back to power.

Several of these leaders argue that Revanth Reddy has failed to strengthen the party and bring in unity, failed to make any electoral headway, with the party losing deposits in the by-elections held in Huzurabad and Munugode under his leadership, and other issues, including a visceral grouse that Revanth Reddy was using party strategist Sunil Konugolu to harness social media clout to tarnish their reputations, and stacking up various committee appointments with his own loyalists, mostly from the TD.

While the rebellion has now become open, with several of these leaders making open accusations against Revanth Reddy at a presser on Sunday, the TPCC responded by declaring his padayatra for change from Republic Day next year. On the sidelines, Revanth Reddy supporters are calling for a disciplinary committee probe and action against the dissidents.

Earlier, when senior Congress leader Marri Shashidhar Reddy spoke against the party state leadership and the way the party was run, Priyanka Gandhi, who successfully led the party to victory in Himachal Pradesh and is reportedly keen to mentor the Telangana unit also, rushed her emissary to meet him. Nothing came of the parlance and Shashidhar Reddy quit the party and joined the BJP.

The Congress has been losing leaders, and vote banks, unabated, for a while since their last major victory under the leadership of late Y.S. Rajashekar Reddy in 2009 in united Andhra Pradesh. Now, with the high command backing him fully, Revanth Reddy has a leviathan challenge in bringing the party to glory; and leaves dissidents little space for manoeuvring, and limited options — accept Revanth as their leader and support his padayatra or leave the party.

If old-timers are suffering the rising power of outsiders in the Congress, the problems within the BJP are diametrically opposite — with newcomers who have joined the saffron party in recent times, especially since its graph began to rise in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, feeling underpowered and reduced to helplessness by old-timers, RSS controls and stifling rules.

Only, unlike the Congress, the dissidence in the BJP is kept a secret and all leaders strictly voice it inside the party fora. A group of leaders who are trying to oppose Bandi Sanjay Kumar have been repeatedly facing failure because it is no secret that the party high command fully trusts and backs the BJP state president and Karimnagar MP.

Several BJP national leaders explained that both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and home minister Amit Shah, and national president J.P. Nadda have enormous goodwill and trust in Sanjay Kumar, who has turned around the party’s fortunes and brought it into shape to even claim to challenge the ruling BRS within a short span of time.

When these dissidents have gone to meet to air their issues, they were repeatedly told to go and work amongst the people to strengthen the party instead of routinely cribbing. On two occasions, senior-most leaders actually gave an earful to these quibbling voices, who were forced to eat humble pie.

While the BJP dissident claims that it would be hard for the party to come to power under Sanjay Kumar’s leadership, the party is sure it has the wherewithal to harness the anti-incumbency against Chief Minister K. Chandrashekar Rao’s two-term government to win the next elections.

Little wonder, the rebellious insiders of the Congress, and the unhappy dissident outsiders in the BJP feel helpless; even as the two state party presidents of the opposition national parties, backed by their respective high commands, surge ahead with a dream to unseat the BRS and win the prize.

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