At present, Congress has six MLAs in the 119-member Legislative Assembly that is dominated by 103 Telangana Rashtra Samithi members.
Anumula Revanth Reddy, the 53-three-year-old Member of Parliament from Malkajgiri and a two-time MLA, is all set to take charge as the new chief of Telangana Pradesh Congress Committee (TPCC). He replaces N Uttam Kumar Reddy who held the post for the last seven years.
Revanth, whose primary objective is to lead the party to power in 2023, will step into his new office on July 7.
With a little over two years to go for the next Assembly elections, Revanth has the difficult task of rejuvenating the Congress party in the Telugu state after its all-time low performance in the 2018 polls. As many as 12 of its 18 new MLAs had moved to the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) following the results.
After governing the erstwhile unified Andhra Pradesh for 10 years between 2004 and 2014, the Congress eventually lost its foothold in either of the Telugu states and is constantly threatened by the emergence of the BJP, which now claims to be the principal opposition party in Telangana.
In the long road towards electoral victory, Revanth Reddy, who joined the Congress party only in 2017 after leaving the Telugu Desam Party, will first have to gain the trust of party veterans and unify the house to inspire grassroots workers.
Speaking to indianexpress.com on Sunday, Revanth admitted that expectations from him are huge as he takes up a big responsibility. He called his appointment as the TPCC chief a “bold decision taken by party president Sonia Gandhi and former president Rahul Gandhi”. “I have to win. I will have to take my cadre as well as leaders along,” he said.
“Whoever is acceptable to the cadre, competent, and energetic enough to run the show will get the opportunity to function. I will consult all senior leaders first. I have to carry with me my cadre as well as leaders. Expectations are very high,” he added.
Speaking about Revanth’s appointment, political commentator Professor K Nageshwar pointed out that he has a very good understanding of issues of the state. “Revanth combines sharpness, rhetoric, wit, and in-depth research to substantiate his arguments. As such, he is very different from BJP chief Bandi Sanjay, who just abuses his opponents. The form may look alike but the substance differs,” Nageshwar, who shared the same bench with Revanth in the Legislative Council between 2007 and 2009, added.
With Revanth taking over, the Congress is likely to take an aggressive position in its criticism of the ruling TRS. However, Nageshwar felt it will be the BJP that will be hit the most and Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao’s party. “BJP rose to prominence as there was no formidable opposition in the state. However, Revanth is a towering leader and star performer in that space. He is likely to limit the BJP’s clout,” he added.
According to him, Revanth’s social media presence and influence among the youth is an added advantage.
When asked about his top priority, Revanth said the last seven years of TRS’s rule has given him enough fuel to fight for the public. “Unemployment among youngsters is going to be an area of focus for me. There are 1.91 lakh vacancies in the government. All those who fought for Telangana statehood are still waiting for job notifications. Even after 7 years, KCR has done nothing except for his family and friends. I am talking about 22-25 lakh unemployed people. To get them justice is my first task,” he added.
“The health and education sectors are in ruins and KCR is least bothered about it. The biggest challenges that the state faces right now are KCR and Covid-19. Our job is to give relief to the people from both,” Revanth further said.
At present, Congress has six MLAs in the 119-member Legislative Assembly that is dominated by 103 TRS members. The party has three MPs from the state in the Lok Sabha.
With former health minister and six-time MLA Eatala Rajender leaving the TRS and joining the BJP, the upcoming byelection to the Huzurabad constituency will be the first electoral challenge to Revanth Reddy’s leadership.
However, Nageshwar believes that “Huzurabad byelection cannot be the basis for judging Revanth’s leadership”. “It is not even a Congress seat. It is premature to attribute the success or failure of a leader to one by-election,” he added.
Revanth, too, said that the upcoming bypoll is “not a big deal”. “Byelections have never influenced people in Telangana. Moreover, the BJP is just the B-team of TRS,” he added, while citing the TRS’s decision to not fight the bypoll in Lingojiguda after BJP leader N Ramachander Rao met TRS working president KT Rama Rao and sought his support.
When asked regarding BJP’s claim of being the principal opposition party in Telangana, Revanth said, “They are about B-grade cinema dialogues. They are in power at the Center, why can’t they initiate investigation against the corrupt TRS government then?” he asked.
Even as he felt no threat from the BJP, the biggest challenge for him could be from within. His elevation to the post of party president has reportedly irked many. “There are different opinions and not differences. The strength of Congress is that everyone can express their views. We are a democratic platform,” he said, exuding confidence to take everyone along and return to power in 2023.
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