Eyebrows were raised as K. Jana Reddy, Leader of Opposition and Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader in Telangana Assembly turned at a felicitation meeting of BJP’s Vice-Presidential candidate M. Venkaiah Naidu in Hyderabad on Friday evening. The meeting was arranged by the BJP and was attended by leaders of all political parties supporting Venkaiah as the VP. Jana Reddy praised Venkaiah as a capable leader. Though Venkaiah has decided not to canvass for the elections, the felicitation was arranged as a thanksgiving by Venkaiah Naidu for all those who back him.
The BJP leaders invited prominent people from different walks of life, including films, to the meeting held at a private function hall on the city outskirts.
Jana Reddy’s presence and brief speech hailing Venkaiah Naidu as a mass leader and a great orator has caused discomfort to the Congress leaders in the state as the party has fielded Gopal Krishna Gandhi as the Opposition candidate for the post of the Vice President. That Jana Reddy greeted Venkaiah Naidu in advance was not accepted well by his party leaders.
“We are supporting Gandhi for Vice President and the election is to be held next week. How can our CLP leader go and praise BJP’s candidate as a great candidate?” asked a Telangana Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) spokesman, while talking to this newspaper.
The spokesman, who preferred anonymity, has brought the issue to the notice of the party high command. When party sources on Saturday tried to find out why he went to the meeting, Jana Reddy is learnt to have told them that he mistook it as a gathering arranged by Venkaiah to say goodbye to active politics.
However, senior leaders of the Congress are not convinced by the explanation and feel that Reddy should not have gone there.
Venkaiah Naidu held another such meeting in Vijayawada on Saturday morning. He told the gathering, which included TDP, BJP and YSR Congress leaders, that Prime Narendra Minister Modi turned emotional when he told him that it was difficult to leave the BJP.
Out of the total 59 votes of MPs (one Rajya Sabha seat vacant) from the two Telugu speaking states, Venkaiah Naidu is expected to bag 52 MP-votes, while Gandhi will get seven-MP votes, including one from Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen’s (MIM) Asaduddin Owaisi.