By Sushil Kutty
Telangana Congress chief A Revanth Reddy’s tactic of remaining on top of the news cycle by challenging Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao week after week since July of this year has been working fine. Revanth Reddy has virtually driven the BJP out of the headlines racket by pitting himself as the sole challenger for the Telangana Chief Minister. He has made the assembly elections a one-on-one between the Congress and KCR’s Bharat Rashtra Samithi with the BJP relegated to whether Tiger Raja Singh’s resurrection will fetch it the lone MLA seat of Goshamahal which it had won in 2018. But most of all, Revanth Reddy’s challenge to KCR to contest against him from Kodangal constituency has gone unaccepted, which is a big loss of face for the Chief Minister. Instead, KCR has chosen to contest from two relatively safe constituencies.
Revanth Reddy has been picking on KCR with one challenge after another and in the process giving little time for the challenges and the messages thereof to sink in. For example, in July this year, Reddy challenged KCR to stand for reelection from Gajwel which made headlines but did not remain top of the page for long. Revanth’s remarks on free electricity to farmers also made headlines.
But it was his challenge to Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao to contest from Gajwel which led to heated debates in both the Congress and BRS, guaranteeing that Revanth and the Congress remained top of the news cycle for several days. Revanth’s challenge-a-week tactic was paying off in spades as it kept KCR and his Bharat Rashtra Samithi guessing besides driving out the BJP from the headlines.
Question is, did the strategy to target KCR and his 10 year reign work like intended? Was KCR being subtly pushed towards changing his constituency apart from making voters question KCR’s acceptance in all of Telangana or only in some family pocket-boroughs. As it happened, Revanth Reddy did compel KCR’s son K T Rama Rao and KCR’s nephew T Harish Rao to come to KCR’s defence proving that Revanth Reddy’s challenges were getting on BRS nerves.
At least this much became known: Some BRS leaders and a lot of cadres had been speculating whether KCR was thinking of changing his constituency. Revanth Reddy gave this curious lot more food for thought. KCR has not been a one-constituency regular. He has contested from a clutch of constituencies including from the Medak, Karimnagar and Mahbubnagar Lok Sabha seats and the Gajwel Assembly seat.
KCR is now going for a hat-trick of wins in the assembly elections, which will make him a third-time Chief Minister of Telangana, a record for South India. But that is what Revanth Reddy wants to put a halt to, to prevent KCR from getting that double hat-trick. Now, over the past week, Reddy has thrown yet another challenge to KCR. This time challenging the Chief Minister to contest against him from Kodangal and asking KCR if indeed he was an all-Telangana leader?
Did you work for the welfare and development of the entire Telangana, Reddy asked KCR. Not long before, the state unit of the Congress had blasted the Chief Minister and challenged him to contest the assembly elections without bribing voters with liquid cash and alcohol which, by the way, isn’t only a BRS modus operandi. All political parties stoop to cash-for-votes and alcohol-for-votes and the voters welcome the well-heeled practice.
But Revanth Reddy was hell bent on painting KCR as a gutless wonder. He dared the Telangana Chief Minister to join him at a “memorial” landmark and the both of them would take a joint vow not to bribe voters with cash and liquor. Reddy’s stunt landed him in detention and also made headlines. In the run-up to elections all publicity is good publicity and Revanth Reddy made a spectacle of himself for the sake of the Congress.
The electorate welcomes such loud spectacles and Reddy’s challenge came after the Bharat Rashtra Samithi accused the Congress of “distributing cash, liquor and gifts” to voters. The only difference was that the Congress made a spectacle of its challenge at “a memorial” while the BRS failed to extract drama from its accusation. KCR forgot that half the electoral battle is the din and drama created in the streets.
Reddy neatly reversed the tables on KCR’s accusation that the Congress bribed voters. Police took Reddy into preventive custody, which worked fine for him. A lot of money is doing the rounds in Telangana as the state gears up for the elections and KCR’s son K T Rama Rao and nephew T Harish Rao say the Telangana campaign of the Congress was being financed by the Karnataka Congress with a Rs 1,500 crore corpus.
But that is not the raging issue. What’s got everybody by the ear in Telangana is Revanth Reddy asking KCR why, if he had kept his electoral promises, he doesn’t have the guts to contest against Revanth Reddy, the Telangana Pradesh Congress Committee chief, from Kodangal? “How much funds did Siddipet, Gajwel and Sircilla get and how much did Kodangal get?” asked Reddy. “I am challenging you to contest against me from here.”
But KCR doesn’t have the “guts”. The BRS list of115 candidates has KCR contesting from two constituencies – Gajwel and Kammareddy, prompting Revanth Reddy to quip that KCR had “already admitted his defeat” and that “you could hear the fear in his voice. He will be defeated from both constituencies.” (IPA Service)