The Telangana unit of the Congress witnessed high drama today after the party released its first list of 55 candidates for the 119 assembly seats in the state. There were tears, loud crying, protests, street-fights, effigy burning and more, forcing the top leaders to lock up the party headquarters at Hyderabad’s Gandhi Bhavan.
The ruckus comes 3 days ahead of the Congress bus yatra planned from October 18, in which Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra are going to participate for three days.
If the Congress was hoping to steer clear of controversy over tickets in its first list for the time being, it was not to be.
A minority group barged into Gandhi Bhavan to disrupt a press conference of Mallu Ravi, forcing him to walk out. This was over a candidate chosen for the Old City. They burnt an effigy of PCC chief Revanth Reddy after which the Congress headquarters was locked out.
In Uppal, Ragidi Lakshma Reddy broke down on finding that his political rival M Parameshwar Reddy would be contesting from Uppal.
“Am not scared of you Revanth Reddy. I built the party here when it was down and out. Because you were PCC chief, I gave you respect but you dumped me for an outsider, a new entrant,” he said, voice quivering, eyes wet.
His supporters sitting and standing around him at a press conference were seen wiping their eyes.
Another aspirant for Uppal, Singireddy Somasekhar Reddy, announced that he would start a campaign throughout the state with the slogan: “Revanth Hatao, Congress Bachao”. He gave a call for those opposing Revanth Reddy to join him.
In Medchal, supporters of other aspirants clashed with the group led by Thotakura Vajresh Yadav, who had been named in the first list.
More embarrassment was in store for the Congress, with senior leader Ponnala Lakshmaiah going to meet chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao. After Ponnala Lakshmaiah resigned from the party, the PCC chief had made some uncharitable remarks on Friday, saying after 40 years in the party, and “enjoying” many positions, why does he need to change parties “at the brink of death”.
At a meet with Ponnala Lakshmaiah, BRS working president KT Rama Rao and invited him to meet KCR and join the party. This is likely to happen tomorrow in Warangal.
Among the 55 candidates in the Congress first list, there are 17 Reddy, 12 Other Backward Class, 12 Scheduled Caste, seven Velama, two Scheduled Tribe, two Brahmin and three minority community candidates.
What has provoked anger is the candidature for 12 recent joinees from other parties. One example is Jupally Krishna Rao, who joined from the ruling BRS and has now been named the Congress candidate from Kollapur.
Mynampally Hanumantha Rao, who was named the BRS candidate from Malkajgiri, is now the Congress candidate after he rebelled from BRS and joined the Congress over his son not being given a ticket. The Congress has also named his son Mynampally Rohit Rao as candidate from Medak.
Former PCC chief Uttam Kumar Reddy fights from Huzurnagar and his wife Padmavathy Reddy have been given tickets from Kodad.
Pawan Khera’s wife Kota Neelima is the Congress candidate from Sanathnagar. She will be taking on BRS minister Talasani Srinivas Yadav.