The Telangana unit of Congress is reportedly in talks with Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) legislators who are ready to switch sides. Even as the party proceeds to form the government after defeating the BRS in the just concluded Assembly elections, some Congress leaders believe that a few MLAs joining their side will bolster numbers.
The Congress won 64 out of the 119 seats, while the BRS secured 39 seats. While state president Revanth Reddy is likely to be sworn in as the Chief Minister, other senior leaders like Madhira MLA Mallu Bhatti Vikramarka, ex-TPCC chief N Uttam Kumar Reddy, and Nalgonda MLA Komatireddy Venkat Reddy are also in the fray for the top post. Apprehensive that infighting may lead to an awkward situation in the future, the party wants to ensure that it can secure more numbers.
A senior Congress leader from Hyderabad told TNM that two BRS MLAs had already met Revanth Reddy, offering support. One of them is believed to be Padi Kaushik Reddy, who won from the Huzurabad seat, beating BJP leader and ex-BRS minister Eatala Rajender. Kaushik had quit the Congress two years ago and joined the BRS before the 2021 Huzurabad bye-poll, which Eatala had then won. Former leaders who had switched sides to the BRS after the 2018 elections are also likely to return to the grand old party, the Congress leader said.
He added that the BRS could easily get support from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) or the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) if needed. “Many BRS MLAs approached us themselves, so we are going to take whoever is interested. We are in a comfortable position and everything will be decided in due course,” the Congress leader stated.
The BJP bagged eight seats, while the AIMIM retained its seven constituencies in Hyderabad in the Assembly elections. The Communist Party of India (CPI) also managed to win the Kothagudem seat with support from the Congress.
A BRS functionary also said they expect some of their MLAs to switch sides to the ruling party. Most names doing the rounds are essentially old Congress and Telugu Desam Party leaders who moved to the BRS after Telangana's formation in 2014. These include ex-minister Sabitha Indra Reddy, Danam Nagender, KP Vivekanand, and Talasani Srinivas Yadav, who was a minister in the last BRS cabinet.
“Talasani and Danam Nagender are very important because they have the money and power to mobilise workers in Hyderabad for any event. So both of them are likely to leave. Mostly, this will begin after the new government takes charge, not right now, but we expect about 10 MLAs to defect,” the BRS functionary told TNM.
On Sunday, the BRS lost power to the Congress after nearly 10 years of rule under Chief Minister KCR. This is the first time Telangana will have a Congress government after the state's bifurcation from Andhra Pradesh.
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