By Sharon Thambala
At a time when hordes of former Congress stalwarts in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana are abandoning the party to salvage their political futures, a former Member of Parliament (MP) from Rajahmundry plunged back into the party recently. GV Harsha Kumar, 61, former Amalapuram MP, declared his allegiance to Congress and the Gandhi family for the second time in the presence of former Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) president Sailajanath, Telangana Congress leader V Hanumantha Rao, Koppula Raju and others.
"I am the prodigal son of Congress. It is true and the party hugged me like the father of a prodigal son," he asserted on being taken back into the party's fold. He said Hanumantha Rao played an active role in the reconciliation. He also commended Koppula Raju, a close aide of Rahul Gandhi. "Next is Koppula Raju, I cannot forget his love. With his encouragement I could come back to the party," said the two-time MP from the scheduled caste (SC) reserved constituency.
According to Harsha Kumar, after Congress lost power in 2014, poor people in the country are going through difficulties while the corporates are rising with plundered booty being fed to them. In his speech to a few hundred people who gathered in what looked like a hotel's banquet hall in Rajahmundry, Kumar opened up that he questioned himself as to why he left Congress.
A closer examination of his loyalties in the aftermath of former united Andhra Pradesh CM YS Rajasekhara Reddy's death reveals a thing or two about the inner workings of Harsha Kumar's thought process. Harsha Kumar was one of the first Congress persons, along with Hanumantha Rao, to undermine the legacy of YS Rajasekhara Reddy, who played an instrumental role in resurrecting Congress in Andhra Pradesh with his long padayatra.
Back then, when YSR succumbed in a chopper crash on September 2, 2009, Harsha Kumar claimed that he did not win the Amalapuram parliamentary election based on YSR's popularity, but that of Sonia Gandhi's.
As Congress party was expected to touch its nadir post bifurcation, Harsha Kumar joined the slippers emblemed Jai Samaikyandhra Party floated by Nallari Kiran Kumar Reddy, last CM of united Andhra Pradesh. However, Telugu Desam Party (TDP) saw a massive victory in the 2014 elections, upsetting many aspirants like Harsha Kumar.
Before the 2019 elections, Harsha Kumar again jumped ship, this time into TDP. When he joined the party, Harsha Kumar touched the feet of Nara Chandrababu Naidu and sought his blessings.
Though he was longing for a TDP ticket to contest in 2019 elections, Naidu did not favour him.
Almost a year and a half after the 2019 elections, Harsha Kumar changed his mind to get back to Congress. Harsha Kumar had been affiliated with the Congress since his college days, as he worked as a student leader of Congress in Andhra University.
Harsha Kumar was psychologically preparing everyone for this event as he regularly extolled the Gandhi family and endeared himself to them on social media.
"When I prayed to god that when I will get a chance in Congress, I remembered the Hathras incident. I saw how Rahul and Priyanka Gandhi faced the police," Harsha Kumar claimed. He said the indomitable spirit of the Gandhi siblings moved him so much that he wanted to work with them.
"Then I realised that this is what I wanted. They are warriors. We have Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi, I will team up with them. I will bear their flag as a team member," said the former parliamentarian. He also praised Sonia Gandhi as the greatest leader he had ever seen in his life. He said Rahul Gandhi could have become the Prime Minister in just two minutes had his mother thought of making him so, but she did not choose to do that.
The leader from Rajahmundry disagreed with Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) writing off the Gandhi family as a dynastic family, and claimed that it was the only political family in India which still lives in a government bungalow without owning their own home since independence.
Harsha Kumar declared his loyalty to Sailajanath, a former Congress minister and current PCC president, a powerful position at one time, and said that he will take the Congress party into the masses.
From his Congress reconciliation stage, Kumar threw a ferocious challenge to the ruling YSRCp, and prophesied that the Congress will return to power in 2024 in the state.
"But I am telling you today, Andhra Pradesh people got cheated twice with two parties (TDP in 2014 and YSRCP in 2019), but third time (2024) they will not get cheated. Congress will come to power. All the people are looking at the Congress party," he claimed.
Waxing eloquent on the grand old party, he said Congress is a party of peace and prosperity which does justice to everyone.
"Atrocities on Dalits are happening everywhere from Kashmir to Kanyakumari, in Rajasthan (actually a Congress-ruled state), Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. Atrocities on minorities. Did we see these kinds of atrocities during Congress," he asked.
Harsha Kumar said the governments at the Centre as well as in the state are not fulfilling the bifurcation promises such as special category status, funds to Polavaram project, railway zone and others.
He accused the TDP of creating an impression that it was working for achieving these goals from 2014 to 2019, and that the same thing is happening with YSRCP now.
Meanwhile, a Dalit leader and a political observer from YSRCP ridiculed Harsha Kumar as a slave of the Gandhi family. "When Sonia Gandhi was bifurcating the state, Harsha Kumar was mum. In fact, he let his two sons loose, who ran on the streets attacking people who demanded Harsha Kumar to oppose the bifurcation and protested outside his properties," said Talluri Raj Kumar, a YSRCP leader from neighbouring West Godavari district.
Debunking Harsha Kumar's claims, Raj Kumar recollected that Kandhamal riots occurred in 2008 when Sonia Gandhi was the most powerful person in India. "She did not say a word condemning the Kandhamal riots. Nirbhaya gang rape occurred in 2012 December when Congress was in power at the Centre as well as in Delhi," Raj Kumar noted.
The YSRCP leader said Congress is a āgone caseā in Andhra Pradesh which will never return to even being a proper opposition party, forget about capturing power.
However, only time will tell what lies in store for Harsha Kumar in the Gandhis' Congress.