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Revanth Reddy, the man who led Congress' dramatic turnaround in Telangana

Revanth Reddy, the man who led Congress' dramatic turnaround in Telangana

Anumula Revanth Reddy is the man of the moment as under his leadership the Congress party has seen a dramatic turnaround in its fortunes in Telangana.

Despite humiliating defeats in by-elections and serious challenge to his leadership from within the party, he led the Congress from the front. With the full support of the high command and an effective strategy, Revanth Reddy gave the grand old party the much-needed victory in its stronghold.

The Congress party had appeared down and out in Telangana till a few months ago. However, the victory in neighbouring Karnataka infused a new life in the party. The Congress was successful in capitalising on the anti-incumbency factor to deny the Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) a hat-trick.

Revanth Reddy was the only leader who campaigned not just in his home constituency Kodangal and Kamareddy, where he challenged Chief Minister KC Rao, but addressed election rallies across the state.

Revanth Reddy addressed 55 public meetings in various constituencies to boost the party’s prospects. The TPCC chief reached out to disgruntled leaders in the BRS and the BJP and invited them to join the Congress party. He also succeeded in persuading the central leadership to give them tickets despite facing some opposition from within the party.

Though Revanth Reddy is considered an outsider by a section of senior Congress leaders, even his critics within the party admit that his hard work played a key role in the party's win.

A bitter critic of KCR and his family, Revanth Reddy’s aggressive brand of politics reminded many of former Chief Minister YS Rajasekhara Reddy, who was one of the most popular leaders of the Congress party in undivided Andhra Pradesh.

The Congress party, which could not come to power in 2014 and 2018 despite claiming credit for carving out Telangana state, was looking for a leader who could revive the party’s fortunes in its traditional stronghold.

Political analysts say Revanth Reddy overcame all hurdles to live up to the expectations of the central leadership. When Revanth Reddy was picked up by the Congress leadership to lead the party in Telangana in 2021, many senior contenders for the post in the grand old party were shocked as he had defected from the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) just before 2018 Assembly polls. His appointment had almost triggered a rebellion within the party and a senior leader had even alleged that a central leader of the party took bribes from Revanth Reddy to appoint him to the post.

However, the Congress high command remained firm. Known for his aggressive approach and mass appeal, he was seen as someone who could reverse the fortunes of the grand old party in its former stronghold.

Though a section of Congress leaders in Telangana still don’t see eye-to-eye with Revanth Reddy, they had no option but to accept the high command’s choice. Revanth had lost the Assembly elections in 2018 from his home turf Kodangal on a Congress ticket, but got elected to the Lok Sabha from Malkajgiri parliamentary constituency in 2019.

Despite the controversies surrounding him, the 53-year-old firebrand is seen by many as the only leader who could take on KCR and family.

“There is no doubt that the credit for the party’s victory goes to Revanth Reddy. Under his leadership the party gained momentum and aggressively took on KCR,” said political analyst Palwai Raghavendra Reddy.

With good oratory skills, Revanth Reddy is vocal in attacking the BRS government over alleged scams and its failure on various fronts. He also enjoys a good following among the youth. It was not surprising that during the campaign, BRS leaders and the leaders of their friendly party AIMIM attacked Revanth Reddy and branded him a RSS man.

While Revanth Reddy admitted that he was with the ABVP during his student days, he denied any association with the RSS.

Interestingly, Revanth Reddy was a member of all three major political players in the state. Hailing from Kodangal in Mahabubnagar district, he began his political career with the TRS (now BRS) in 2003. He quit the party two years later after he was not given a chance to contest.

Contesting as an independent, he became a Zilla Parishad Territorial Committee (ZPTC) member in 2006. He got elected to the Andhra Pradesh Legislative Council in 2008 as an independent candidate. The same year he joined the Telugu Desam Party (TDP).

In 2009 he got elected to the Andhra Pradesh Assembly from Kodangal. He became close to TDP President and former Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu. Emerging as one of the key faces of the TDP, he was impressive with his articulation both in the Assembly and outside.

“He used to enthusiastically participate in the debates and always come prepared with facts and figures,” said an analyst.

Revanth Reddy was re-elected from Kodangal in 2014. However, the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh had weakened the TDP in Telangana.

In 2015, the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) caught him while he was trying to bribe nominated MLA Elvis Stephenson to make him vote for the TDP candidate in Legislative Council elections. ACB had laid the trap on Stephenson’s complaint and when Revanth Reddy along with three others came to the MLA’s house with Rs.50 lakh in cash, they were arrested by ACB sleuths.

The episode was recorded on camera. Revanth Reddy was in jail for more than six months before he was granted bail. Since then, he has been maintaining a low profile. In October 2017, he resigned as MLA and also quit the TDP. He vowed to fight for ‘liberation of Telangana from KCR’s autocratic rule’ and later joined the Congress party.

He built a strong network within the Congress and soon became close to the top leadership. He was rewarded with the post of the working president of the TPCC. During the campaign for the 2018 elections, he triggered a row by projecting himself as the chief ministerial candidate. Despite the defeat in the Assembly elections, the party fielded him in the Lok Sabha polls held a few months later and following his victory he cemented his position in the party.


Tags: Telangana Congress Revanth Reddy Telangana Polls