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As KCR Struggles to Keep His Flock Together, Congress Emerges ‘Secret Gainer’

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Hyderabad: The ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi has been making an all-out effort to ensure its position in the battle for political space. From dissolving the House to offering tickets, K Chandrashekar Rao’s party is in no mood to miss an opportunity to remain in the dominant spot. However, TRS now seems to be getting entangled in its own strategy with too many hands in the air, waiting to be picked by the leadership.

Majority of the leaders, who had joined the party ahead of the last assembly polls, are expecting a ticket in this election. This has led to an unavoidable crisis — two to four aspirants for a single constituency, and almost all of them are heavyweights. Some were state ministers, while others are Rajya Sabha MPs and even corporators.

These ticket seekers are mainly turncoats, who worked for years to get a strong hold in their regions. But with them joining the same party, the competition increased. KCR managed to please most of them, with almost all sitting MLAs getting a ticket. But the leaders, who failed to make the cut in KCR’s list, are now quitting the party and hopping onto other political outfits.

Recently, former PCC chief and Rajya Sabha member D Srinivas met Congress president Rahul Gandhi, triggering speculations of him re-joining the party. Telangana State Road Development Corporation (TSRDC) Chairman T Narsa Reddy and Member of Telangana Legislative Council S Ramulu Naik have already joined the grand old party.
Another TRS leader and actor-turned-politician, P Babu Mohan, has joined BJP after he was denied ticket to contest ensuing Telangana Assembly elections.

“We have given enough priority to D Srinivas and all other leaders. We cannot give them more than one ticket in a constituency. People who want to stay are welcome and those who want to leave, let them go. We don’t mind,” Rao had said earlier.

But these are not just three-four leaders. The list of ministers fleeing TRS does not end there. According to sources, MLA Bodige Shobha and Karimnagar ZP Chairperson Tula Uma are also ready to leave the party, while Konda Surekha, MLCs Ramulu Naik, Bhupati Reddy, Adilabad district leader Ramesh Rathode and Narsa Reddy from KCR’s own constituency have joined Congress.

However, Tula Uma has denied speculations of him leaving the party. “TRS is my family. It’s my family problem. I have every right to ask for a ticket. And I had sought for it from Vemulawada. But they could not give it. However, this cannot become a reason to leave the party. Opposition is unnecessarily spreading rumours for political gain. I will remain in TRS,” he assured.

While hopping and skipping is witnessed close to the elections, widespread defections often make a dent in a party’s prospects. Now, for instance, TRS’ votebank in Andole and Warangal could split.

After joining the Bharatiya Janata Party, former TRS leader Babu Mohan will contest from Andole, while Kranthi Kiran will fight on Telangana Samithi’s ticket in the area. The constituency already has a heavyweight leader, former deputy chief minister and Congress’s Damodara Raja Narasimha. In this scenario, the vote share is likely to get affected.

Similarly, in Warangal, Konda Surekha and her daughter want to contest from Warangal West and Bhoopalapally respectively. The former TRS leaders have a strong hold in their regions and if they fight the polls, they are likely to come to power.

Dharmapuri Srinivas is another heavyweight. He enjoys a sizable support in undivided Nizamabad district. Srinivas along with his followers had won nine out of nine seats in the 2014 assembly elections.

With strong leaders leaving the party one by one, ‘Team KCR’ has now begun ‘Operation Akarsh’, to lure potential leaders from other political parties. It recently managed to get former assembly speaker in undivided Andhra Pradesh and senior Congress leader K Suresh Reddy into its fold.

“We don’t want to lose the leaders. TRS will again come to the power. Everyone will get a chance in a different way,” TRS Peddapally MP Balka Suman said, adding that the leaders leaving the party were basically Congress leaders who are going back to their previous party. “We have nothing to lose here,” he said.

Meanwhile, speaking to News18, TPCC Secretary Bandi Sudhakar said, “These new members will give a renewed strength to the party. As they belong to a different areas of the state, the party will get fresh support from these places. We are expecting more migrations to the party by end of the nominations.”

| Edited by: Sumedha Kirti





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