Congress party politics marked by ‘odd discipline’

Congress party politics marked by ‘odd discipline’

TS Chief Minister A Revanth Reddy recently showered extraordinary admiration on his cabinet colleague, Komatireddy Venkat Reddy, describing him as a ‘Real Fighter’ who ‘On Par With Him’ was fully eligible to become the CM

TS Chief Minister A Revanth Reddy recently showered extraordinary admiration on his cabinet colleague, Komatireddy Venkat Reddy, describing him as a ‘Real Fighter’ who ‘On Par With Him’ was fully eligible to become the CM. Minister Uttam Kumar Reddy, too, endorsed almost on similar lines. Such an observation in Congress politics, if only read ‘Between the Lines’, means a Lot, including ‘Change at Steering.’ If Andhra Pradesh Congress politics of ‘Mysterious Odd Discipline’ and ‘Nominating and Replacing Legislature Party Leaders’ is any indication, nothing is ruled out safely!!!

Modest, unassuming, simple living but high thinking, and maintaining low profile political leaders some of whom were Chief Ministers, Union Ministers, Lok Sabha Speakers, President, Prime Minister etc., set standards in Telugu States. Tanguturi Prakasam, Bezawada Gopala Reddy as Andhra CMs, and Burgula Ramakrishna Rao as Hyderabad CM set the tone in Congress. Communist Leader Pucchalapalli Sundarayya, ‘First Opposition Leader’ in Andhra and AP equally did the same.

After AP formation, Sanjiva Reddy, Sanjeevaiah, Brahmananda Reddy, PV Narasimha Rao, Vengal Rao, Chennareddy, Anjaiah, Bhavanam, Vijaya Bhaskara Reddy, NT Rama Rao, Janardhan Reddy, Chandrababu Naidu, Rajasekhara Reddy, Rosaiah, Kiran Kumar Reddy, all except two, were CMs. Consequent to Telangana formation, Chandrashekhar Rao became the first CM succeeded by Revanth Reddy. Jaganmohan Reddy succeeded Chandrababu Naidu as the residual AP CM.

Comparison between politicians of yester years, later times, and contemporary eras is bit tough and also not without bias. Since when precisely degeneration in politics started is anyone’s guess and debatable. The fact, however, remains that as the times passed, principles in politics have ‘Gone with the Wind.’ Polite and humble politics in Telugu States are bygone history. They are now despicable, impatient, annoyed, and intolerant. Corrective measures are faraway. Future appears bleak.

Until 1983 when NT Rama Rao (TDP) headed the first non-Congress government, it was Congress monopoly. Despite ‘dissidence and indiscipline’ within party, distinctly there was a message of togetherness, inherent discipline, and adhering to ‘parliamentary moral code of conduct’ while addressing colleagues in the party. Opposition leaders, too, were respected. ‘Unpalatable harsh words’ were avoided. Before answering questions in Assembly, Ministers were approaching opposition benches, for suggestion to give right reply in public interest. That was the mutual respect.

There was a conventional process on the choice of legislature party leadership an obvious preliminary step to become CM in Telugu States since the formation of Andhra in 1953 and continued even after formation of AP in 1956. Tanguturi Prakasam was the unanimous choice of party as CM of Andhra. Bezawada Gopala Reddy succeeded him. Neelam Sanjiva Reddy was their Deputy. Interestingly, disciplined Bezawada was Minister in Neelam’s cabinet after formation of AP!

Congress party always exhibited ‘gigantic discipline’ setting an example, displaying ‘whole hearted unanimity’ that is infrequently seen in any party while electing ‘Legislature Party (CLP) Leader’ though diluted subsequently due to unethical contests, sycophancy, and surrendering to high command. TDP (Telugu Desam Party) or TRS (Telangana Rashtra Samithi) or YSRCP are different. If it was the ‘Parliamentary Board’ or ‘High Command’ that coordinated, controlled, screwed, and dictated CLP leader election, hegemony of founder president ‘Ruled the Roost’ in regional parties.

A freehand was given by Congress ‘High Command’ in 1956 and in 1957. Consequent to Burgula withdrawing from the race, Sanjiva Reddy (with JV Narasinga Rao support), and Bezawada Gopal Reddy (Chennareddy support) were left in the contest. Neelam became CLP Leader and CM on both occasions. On his becoming AICC President in 1960, despite Sanjiva Reddy was influential enough to name Brahmananda Reddy as his successor nominee, high command’s choice prevailed against his choice. Dalit leader Damodaram Sanjeevaiah was elected as the CLP Leader and became the CM.

High Command, however, preferred Neelam over Damodaram after 1962 elections as CLP Leader and CM. When he had to resign following the Supreme Court strictures, his then trusted lieutenant Kasu was ‘Nominated’ as CM. Neelam was retained as CLP Leader until he joined Nehru’s Cabinet. Friends Neelam and Kasu became foes later. Kasu was elected as CLP Leader after 1967 elections, too. When Kasu was ‘Shown the Door’ by the high command, as part of Indira Gandhi ‘strategy’ to replace (destabilize) influential CMs, after 1971 Lok Sabha midterm polls, PV Narasimha Rao was ‘nominated’ on Indira Gandhi’s discretion as the CLP Leader and CM.

Since 1972 elections onwards, choice of naming CLP Leader was totally at the ‘Will and Pleasure’ of Indira Gandhi. PV once again was her choice. When trouble escalated subsequent to his comments, PV had no option except to step down. President’s Rule was imposed. Assembly was kept in suspended animation. Indira Gandhi picked Jalagam Vengal Rao this time. His name as CLP Leader and CM was announced in Delhi, establishing another new convention. Post Emergency elections, and consequent to Indira Gandhi’s defeat, with Janata Party in power at Center, she propelled split in Congress Party. Congress (I) was formed with Indira as President. Jalagam opted for Kasu’s camp.

Under shrewd, politically tactful Dr M Chennareddy as APCC (I) President, Congress (I) swept 1978 Assembly Polls, defeating Jalagam miserably. Chenna Reddy, Indira Gandhi’s choice, despite stiff competition from Rajaram, was elected unanimously as CLP Leader and became CM. Dissidence culminated in Chenna Reddy’s resignation after 19 months. T Anjaiah, again Indira Gandhi’s handpicked nominee, was his successor, who did not lost long. Bhavanam replaced Anjaiah for brief period, succeeded by Vijaya Bhaskara Reddy.

Kotla ‘Successfully Cleared Decks’ in favor of NT Rama Rao to form first non-Congress government. In 1983 elections, TDP received a massive mandate. The ‘One Man Show’ NTR was unchallenged choice as TDPLP Leader and CM. Degeneration into unprincipled, unethical politics began to take shape when a former Congress leader in NTR Cabinet, Nadendla Bhaskar Rao toppled him to become CM for a month. NTR was reinstated following Nationwide Agitation. He preferred Assembly Dissolution and fresh mandate. NTR TDP won 1985 elections also.

Congress party once again led by Chenna Reddy swept 1989 polls, and ‘High Command’ engineered his election as CLP Leader and CM despite solemn contest from a few leaders. In just one year, he faced the wrath of dissidents and High Command and was unceremoniously replaced by Janardhan Reddy. Kotla was again nominated as CM before 1994 elections, to taste a second defeat as CM. NTR became CM again. Chandrababu Naidu with his political acumen and ‘Back Stabbing Politics’ toppled NTR and became CM. In 1999 elections, Babu’s TDP won and he became CM again.

Sonia Gandhi’s obvious choice as CLP Leader and CM after 2004 elections was YS Rajasekhara Reddy. YSR led the party to victory again in 2009 elections and the ‘High Command’ had no option except to concede him as CLP Leader and CM. Consequent to his untimely death, prior to State’s Reorganization, Rosaiah and Kiran Kumar Reddy were ‘Nominated CLP Leaders and CMs.’ Sonia Gandhi’s stubborn and thoughtless denial to concede YS Jagan Mohan Reddy as successor to YSR was the ‘Last Nail in the Coffin of Congress’ in AP. As of now, its revitalisation looks highly uncertain.

TRS won 2014 and 2018 elections and K Chandrashekhar Rao was elected as TRSLP Leader to become the first Telangana CM. In 2023 elections Congress party led by A Revanth Reddy secured majority. His election as CLP Leader to become first Congress CM of Telangana, as usual, was not before ‘Delhi Drama.’ Revanth Reddy’s critics within and outside Congress Party opine that he may not be allowed to complete his full term. In this context, Revanth Reddy’s ‘Plain Speaking Confession with an Open Heart’ that Komatireddy Venkat Reddy is eligible to become CM hints at possible ‘Change of Guard.’ But in State’s interests, Revanth Reddy should complete his full term successfully.

(Writer was PRO to Former AP CM Dr Marri Chennareddy)

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