There is no clarity on a new Telangana PCC chief even after N. Uttam Kumar Reddy quitting.
One single case of a Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) remaining without an effective president for long may not be sufficient to generalize a situation, but the classic example of the Telangana PCC (TPCC) illustrates how the party high command continues to be indecisive for the last two years.
TPCC president and Nalgonda MP N. Uttam Kumar Reddy has resigned from his post on 4 December, following a disastrous show by Congress in the two back-to-back polls—Dubbaka assembly by-election and that of Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC).
In Dubbaka, BJP wrested the seat from TRS, while Congress lost its deposit, while in GHMC, the party scored just 2 out of 150 divisions, whereas the saffron party won an unprecedented 48, denying full majority to the ruling party which put up with just 56 divisions.
In fact, this is not the first time Uttam Kumar Reddy has resigned from PCC post. He submitted his resignation immediately after the party’s poor show in December 2018 Assembly elections in the state. In the polls, the party won 16 MLAs out of the 119 member Assembly. The TRS won 88 MLAs.
In those elections, Uttam’s wife and sitting MLA Padmavathi lost from her Kodad seat, triggering demands from within the party that he should quit immediately. Uttam managed to win as MLA from neighbouring Huzurnagar seat, though with a reduced majority.
In the 2019 parliamentary elections, Uttam won as MP from Nalgonda, and fielded his wife as Congress candidate in the by-election to Huzurnagar Assembly seat and again lost it to TRS. In the parliamentary elections, Congress got just three MPs while BJP won four while TRS bagged nine MPs.
There are a few groups within TPCC who oppose Uttam’s leadership tooth and nail and they have been demanding that the high command replace him with one of them. Even Uttam is ready to quit the post and give the reins to anyone chosen by the high command which is not in a position to take a decision.
Uttam resigned to his post for the second time after the defeat of his wife in the Assembly bypoll and even personally told then AICC in-charge general secretary R.K. Khuntia. Khuntia was believed to have tried in vain his best to impress on the high command to appoint someone as the new PCC president.
This two-year long stalemate has now turned into a crisis as Uttam resigned for the third time—this time making it clear that he doesn’t want to continue in the post even for a day. After 4 December when he sent his resignation letter to the AICC, his close confidant and PCC treasurer Gudur Narayan Reddy joined BJP.
Meanwhile, a new in-charge general secretary Manikam Thakur came to Telangana and his task now is to find a successor to Uttam and prepare the party for the coming electoral battles— Nagarjunasagar Assembly by-election and polls to some civic corporations—Warangal and Khammam etc.
There are half a dozen strong contenders and important of them are: Bhongir MP Komatireddy Venkat Reddy, a former minister and a senior leader and Malkajgiri MP A Revanth Reddy, currently working president of TPCC. Besides, there are a few others who think they deserve a chance this time.
For the last two months, Manikam Thakur held dozens of rounds of talks with different groups within the party and carried scorers of reports to the high command, but there is no clarity on who can be the new PCC chief. Neither Congress president Sonia Gandhi nor Rahul Gandhi is ready to decide on this.
After the demise of Ahmed Patel and Motilal Vohra, now K.C. Venugopal is the point man to the TPCC leaders to reach the high command—Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi. But, Venugopal is unable to communicate a message to Manikam Thakur on the next TPCC chief.
The high command is afraid of more exits from the party once a new PCC chief is appointed, as group rivalries are so intense. Now there are only 5 MLAs left with the Congress, and one of them—Komatireddy Rajagopal Reddy—indicated that he would join BJP soon.
By saying this, Rajagopal Reddy hinted that he would not continue in the party unless his elder brother Venkat Reddy is made the PCC president. The other leaders in the party are apprehensive that the exit of Komatireddy brothers who are strong in Nalgonda district might affect the party in the coming polls.
Finally, the high command has announced that a successor to Uttam would be named only after the Nagarjunasagar Assembly by-election which is likely to be held sometime March/April. Until then, the present chaos or crisis continues in the TPCC.
- There are a few groups within TPCC who oppose Uttam’s leadership tooth and nail and they have been demanding that the high command replace him with one of them. Even Uttam is ready to quit the post and give the reins to anyone chosen by the high command which is not in a position to take a decision. Uttam resigned for the second time after the defeat of his wife in the Assembly bypoll and even personally told then AICC in-charge general secretary R.K. Khuntia. Khuntia tried in vain to impress on the high command to appoint someone as the new PCC president. Now, Uttam has resigned for the third time.