NEW DELHI: Rocked by defections and factionalism in Telangana cadre since the last Assembly elections in 2018, Congress leaders in the state claim that the current state chief, Revanth Reddy, has been unable to unite the party. Moreover, they say, that the state chief has been discriminatory towards OBCs who constitute around 55% in the state and this has, subsequently, led to downfall in the party’s popularity.
Last year, Revanth Reddy, speaking at a meeting at Kodangal in Telangana, had said that on any given day “Reddys were better than Velamas in providing leadership and steering a state to development”. Moreover, he termed Reddys as “very reliable and strong”.
He even had gone back into history and said that those who trusted Reddys neither incurred any loss nor were left to fend for themselves. The leaders within the party say the statement otherised the backward community. “And its effect of alienating the OBCs has continued since then,” a party leader said. A senior OBC leader said, “A lot of people (OBCs) want to come in the Congress fold, but when there is no importance given to the already existing leaders from the backward classes, they hold back and go to other parties.”
He further added, “We don’t get importance because then we have to contest on general seats and the competition is directly with the upper caste, either it would be them or us. They believe if we get space in the party and start winning due to the higher percentage of OBCs in Telangana. We can grab the total political space in the party. So they don’t want us.” Congress leaders believe there is a need to induct OBCs in the party to strengthen its voter base. The Sunday Guardian called Revanth Reddy multiple times to know if he has failed to unite the party irrespective of caste and class. However, he was not available on call. However, BRS leaders feel that the OBCs in the state, from the beginning, were with their party and will remain with the party, claiming that they (OBCs) are receiving benefits of welfare and development schemes launched by the BRS government, and the OBCs would continue to support K. Chandrashekhar Rao.
A political observer said, the Congress has been Reddy’s party. “Even when they brought Ponnala Lakshmaiah in 2014, who is a Dalit, as the TPCC chief, he failed to stir any change for the party.”
Also, at the time, senior leaders had told the high command that Lakshmaiah has failed to inspire the cadres and was unable to take on the TRS Government effectively on various issues. “Thus they have gone back to the Reddys,” he added.
Telangana has a population of 3.5 crore of which Reddys constitute from around 4% to 5%, with influence in the fields of politics and business. They have been with Congress.
However, a leader claimed that they have also started dispersing away from the party. Reddys are a land-owning dominant caste and one of the most powerful groups in the both Telugu speaking Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. They had political dominance in undivided Andhra Pradesh, across the caste spectrum, for many decades.