Telangana Congress faces challenge in rewarding turncoats with Cabinet berthstext_fields
Hyderabad: As the Congress is all set to form the government in Telangana, the party is likely to come under pressure from various quarters for ministerial berths and those who had crossed over to the party from BRS and BJP recently may demand their pound of flesh.
Out of 64 newly-elected MLAs of the Congress, 20 are those who had joined the party during the last five months. Some of them joined a few days before the deadline for filing nominations, secured the tickets and won the election.
Thirty of the 118 candidates fielded by the Congress party were those who had joined the party recently. Only 10 of them could not make it.
There will be demand for Cabinet berths from both senior leaders who have been in the party for 2-3 decades and are seen as original Congress leaders and also from those who came from other parties, especially those who switched loyalties during the last few months.
As the Cabinet can have only 18 members including the Chief Minister, the party may face a challenge in satisfying all segments. While the long-time loyalists are likely to get the preference, there will also be demands for representation to the communities whose candidates could not win the elections.
Since none of the Muslim candidates of Congress was elected, the party may induct senior leader and former minister Mohammed Ali Shabbir or former Indian cricket captain Mohamed Azharuddin and nominate them to the Legislative Council.
It remains to be seen how Congress will accommodate the aspirants from the group of 20 MLAs who had joined the party recently. Former ministers Jupally Krishna Rao, Tummala Nageswara Rao, former MPs Ponguleti Srinivas Reddy, G. Vivek and K. Rajagopal Reddy are seen as strong contenders. They all came to the party from BRS or BJP and won the election.
In fact, the migration of dissident leaders from BRS and BJP had started in May after the Congress won the elections in Karnataka.
The Congress leaders were worried over lack of strong candidates in about 40 constituencies and they were quick to reach out to disgruntled leaders from both BRS and BJP and this strategy paid off and finally helped the party wrest power from BRS.
As the BRS had announced its candidates in August, about 45 days before the announcement of the poll schedule, and it retained almost all sitting MLAs, this gave ample time to Congress to reach out to those BRS leaders who were unhappy over the denial of tickets.
Undivided Khammam district saw the victory of a maximum number of turncoats. In 2018, Congress had won six out of 10 seats in this district and except two all had later crossed over to BRS. Both MLAs of TDP had also defected to BRS. They all had to bite the dust in this election as the BRS candidates who had finished second in the previous election switched loyalties to Congress.
Former Khammam MP Pongulet Srinivas Reddy, who was suspended from BRS, was one of the first to join Congress after the party’s victory in neighbouring Karnataka. He has been elected from the Palair constituency. The others who won after crossing over from BRS are Tummala Nageswar Rao (Khammam), K. Kanakaiah (Yellandu), P. Venkateswarlu (Pinapaka), J. Adinarayana (Aswaraopet) and M. Ragamayee (Sathupalli).
Nageswara Rao, who had also served as a minister in the first BRS government, joined Congress in September as he was denied a ticket by the party. A former TDP leader, he had also served as minister in undivided Andhra Pradesh. In Khammam, he defeated transport minister P. Ajay Kumar by over 49,000 votes.
In undivided Mahabubnagar district former minister Jupally Krishna Rao, who had joined Congress in July after being suspended from BRS, won the election from Kollapur constituency. Others who crossed over from BRS and elected on Congress ticket are T. Megha Reddy (Wanaparthy), who defeated agriculture minister S. Niranjan Reddy, Kasireddy Narayana Reddy (Kalwakurthy) and K. Rajesh Reddy (Nagarkurnool). Narayan Reddy was a Member of the Legislative Council from BRS while Rajesh Reddy is the son of BRS MLC K. Damodar Reddy.
Former MLA Y. Srinivas Reddy, who had quit BJP to join Congress was elected from Mahabubnagar defeating excise minister V. Srinivas Goud.
Those who bagged tickets after crossing over from BRS a few days before the announcement of the poll schedule and still got elected are B. Manohar Reddy (Tandur), Vemula Veeresham (Nakrekal), M. Samel (Tungathurthi).
Mynampalli Hanumanth Rao, the sitting MLA of BRS from Malkajgiri, had quit the party to join Congress as BRS had denied ticket to his son Myanmpalli Rohit, elected from Medak. The Congress party fielded both. While Hanumanth Rao suffered defeat from Malkajgiri, his son was elected from Medak.
Former MP G. Vivek, who quit the BJP to join Congress in the eleventh hour, won the Chennur seat. K. Rajagopal Reddy, who had quit Congress to join BJP to force the by-election to Munugode last year, returned to Congress at the last minute and still managed to get the ticket and was re-elected from the same constituency. Former TDP leader Revuri Prakash Reddy, who too had quit BJP, won Parkal seat on Congress ticket.