Right from 23 May when the BJP surprised everyone by winning four Lok Sabha seats in Telangana, the party’s sights have been set on building on the political momentum. Since its own leadership talent base is seen to be weak, the BJP has been on the lookout for migrants from other parties who could fit into the party ecosystem.
In the run-up to the elections, former Mahbubnagar MP AP Jitender Reddy did a ghar waapsi after K Chandrasekhar Rao denied him a ticket in the Lok Sabha elections. DK Aruna of the Congress, also from undivided Mahbubnagar district, too moved to the BJP and contested the election.
The TRS has done to the Congress what it did to the Telugu Desam in its first term. While 12/15 of the TDP MLAs crossed over to the TRS between 2014-18, 12/18 legislators of the Congress have joined the ruling party within six months of the December 2018 elections. The Congress strength in Telangana assembly is now less than that of the MIM, a huge embarrassment for the national party.
With the Congress imploding in the state, the BJP fancies its chances to emerge as the opposition though at this point in time, it has just a lone MLA in Raja Singh in the Assembly. The BJP is therefore looking at leaders like Komatireddy brothers, Revanth Reddy and Konda Vishweshwar Reddy to shore up its political fortunes.
“The Komatireddy brothers have had a running turf battle with PCC chief Uttam Kumar Reddy. Komatireddy Venkat Reddy’s grouse is that he is senior to Uttam Reddy in politics, yet has to play second fiddle to him within Telangana Congress. If one of the brothers is not made the PCC president in place of Uttam Reddy, we can woo him into BJP,” a BJP leader told Filter Kaapi.
Revanth Reddy is another leader on the horizon. With the cash-for-votes case still hanging like a Damocles sword on him and his ex-mentor Chandrababu Naidu hardly in a position to protect him, Reddy is another leader on the BJP radar. Revanth however, has denied rumours that he was looking to exit the Congress.
While Revanth would be an asset, the BJP would be wary of making the BJP Mahbubnagar and south Telangana-heavy. Revanth, though now a Lok Sabha MP from Malkajgiri (in capital Hyderabad region) hails from Kodangal in Mahbubnagar. In addition to Jitender Reddy and Aruna, the party already has several district-level leaders like Y Laxminarayana and N Janardhan Reddy.
Konda Vishweshwar Reddy quit the TRS late last year and lost the Lok Sabha election on the Congress ticket from Chevella. With little support coming his way from the Congress national leadership during the election campaign, the BJP feels Reddy could consider it as an option. Though not a political heavyweight, Reddy with his educational and entrepreneurial background carries considerable intellectual heft and hails from a family with impressive political lineage.
What’s common to all these leaders is the strong backing of the Reddy community. The Reddys have traditionally backed the Congress and the BJP hopes to emerge as an alternative and make the community switch loyalties. Making its Secunderabad MP G Kishan Reddy a minister at the Centre, is part of the plan to make the Reddy community feel important.
The biggest political name that has stayed on the BJP list for some time now is KCR’s nephew Harish Rao. The former Irrigation minister has been sidelined after the assembly elections and he was not taken into the cabinet. But Harish has kept his cards close to his chest, continues to swear loyalty to the CM and has consistently denied any thoughts of deserting the TRS.