Hyderabad: After losing some leaders to the Congress party in the last few weeks, the Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) is hitting back by luring disgruntled leaders from the opposition to its camp.
With the distribution of tickets by the Congress to turncoats angering senior and loyal leaders, the ruling party is taking advantage of the situation.
Whenever any key leader resigns from Congress, the BRS leadership loses no time in reaching out to them and inviting them to join the ruling party. This strategy is paying the BRS dividends with the followers of these leaders also switching loyalties in their respective constituencies. This is expected to bolster the BRS position ahead of the November 30 election.
BRS working president K.T. Rama Rao and senior leader T. Harish Rao are personally leading this effort to lure disgruntled Congress leaders to their camps. They are then inviting the leaders to meet BRS president and Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao.
After succeeding in winning back the support of those who had left TRS (now BRS) during the Telangana movement, both the top leaders personally visited the houses of the Congress leaders soon after they resigned from the party.
As BRS has already announced candidates for almost all 119 constituencies, the party is assuring these leaders that they will be accommodated in suitable positions in future.
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When senior leader and former Minister Ponnala Lakshmaiah resigned from the Congress over alleged humiliation of Backward Classes leaders within the party, KTR rushed to his house in no time to invite him to join the party.
Ponnala, former president of Telangana Congress, ended his 40-year-long association with the Congress after it became clear that the party will not field him from Jangaon constituency. In his resignation letter, he alleged that the Backward Caste leaders within the party were insulted when they had gone to Delhi to meet the central leaders to demand fair share of tickets to BCs.
Ponnala later joined the BRS in the presence of KCR. The ruling party used this defection to slam Congress over the manner in which it was seen as treating its BC leaders.
On October 29 when former Minister Nagam Janardhan Reddy resigned from Congress over denial of ticket from Nagarkurnool constituency, KTR and Harish immediately rushed to his house and invited him to join BRS. They were accompanied by a BRS candidate from the constituency, Marri Janardhan Reddy, who told the senior leader that he respects him like his father. Nagam, once a bitter critic of KCR, was invited to meet KCR.
Nagam, a six-time MLA, was enraged after Congress fielded K. Rajesh Reddy, son of BRS MLC K. Damodar Reddy. Rajesh had joined Congress party recently.
Nagam, one of the last prominent leaders of the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) in Telangana had joined Congress before the 2018 elections. The former, who was elected from Nagarkurnool for five consecutive terms, lost the 2018 election to BRS candidate Marri Janardhan Reddy.
Resignation of former MLA P. Vishnuwardhan Reddy from Congress came as another opportunity for BRS to bolster its ranks. He raised the banner of revolt after he was denied ticket from Jubilee Hills constituency in Hyderabad. The Congress fielded former Indian cricket captain Mohammed Azharuddin.
Harish Rao went to the house of Vishnuvardhan Reddy, son of late P. Janardhan Reddy, who was leader of Congress Legislature Party (CLP) in united Andhra Pradesh from 1994 to 1999. The BRS recalled the services of PJR, as Janardhan Reddy was popularly known, and promised Vishnuvardhan Reddy a suitable position in the party.
The young leader, who enjoys good support in the constituency, also met KCR and decided to join BRS.
Vishnuvardhan Reddy was first elected to the Assembly from Khairatabad constituency in the by-election in 2008 caused by his father’s death. He was elected from Jubilee Hills in 2009 but lost 2014 and 2018 elections from the same constituency.
The BRS also succeeded in luring Muslim leader Shaik Abdullah Sohail to join the party after he quit Congress. He resigned as the chairman of minorities department of Telangana Pradesh Congress Committee (TPCC) on October 28, alleging ‘sale’ of tickets and communalisation of the party under the leadership of A. Revanth Reddy, whom he dubbed a leader with RSS roots.
Sohail wrote a hard-hitting letter to AICC President Mallikarjun Kharge, explaining the reasons for his decision to snap his 34-year-long association with the party. Soon after Sohail’s resignation, BRS leader Dasoju Srravan rushed to his house and invited him to join BRS. He formally joined the party on October 30.