Anumula Revanth Reddy, who defected from the TDP to the Congress in Telangana two weeks ago, has become an embarrassment for Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, due to the former’s flip-flop on resigning from the Assembly and facing a by-election at the earliest. Rahul Gandhi wants Revanth to face a fresh election, but the latter seems to be not ready.
Sources who are in touch with Rahul Gandhi say that the uncertainty over Revanth’s resignation of his Assembly membership would severely dent the Congress’ image and the efforts to revive the party in Telangana ahead of the 2019 general elections. Rahul plans to address a rally at Warangal on 20 November and is keen on the former TDP MLA’s resignation issue settled by then.
Revanth Reddy, who quit as working president of the Telangana unit of TDP, joined Congress by meeting Rahul Gandhi in New Delhi on 31 October. After an elaborate exercise by his general secretary, R.C. Kunthia and AICC SC cell in-charge K. Raju, a retired AP cadre IAS officer, Rahul Gandhi personally invited Revanth and another 18 TDP leaders into the party.
The same evening, the AICC presented Revanth and his team before the media and claimed that he had submitted his resignation from the Assembly to seek a fresh mandate from people. Revanth’s readiness to quit the Assembly had, in fact, enthused the Congress leadership, which is in a demoralised state after aggressive poaching by TRS in the past three years.
In fact, Revanth’s decision to quit his MLA post has filled Congress ranks with jubilation as the party had lost all the byelections held in Telangana since 2014 and is not in a position to defend its remaining cadre before the next general elections. Revanth has released the photo copy of his resignation in the Speaker’s format—a single sentence resignation without any conditions or terms—on 1 November.
Though Revanth’s personal staff released the copy of the letter dated 28 October, addressed to Telangana Assembly Speaker S. Madhusudhna Chary, it hadn’t reached the latter’s office till 10 November. Telangana Legislative Assembly secretary Narasimhacharyulu told The Sunday Guardian on Friday that no letter of resignation from any MLA has reached them.
As per the rule of the Legislative Assembly, the Speaker initiates action only when a member tenders her/his resignation in the prescribed format, a single sentence without putting any terms and conditions and hands over to the chair personally or through an authorised messenger. Then, the Speaker verifies it from the member and accepts it.
Enquiries revealed that Revanth Reddy has handed over his resignation from the Assembly to TDP national president and Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu at Amaravati on 28 October. They admitted that the MLA had not sent his papers to the Telangana Speaker’s office.
A former TDP MLA who too joined Congress along with Revanth told this newspaper that the latter had given his letter to Naidu only to put pressure on him to seek the acceptance of 12 other TDP MLAs, who had joined the ruling TRS in the last three years. “This is Revanth Reddy’s ploy to expose TDP’s nexus with TRS in Telangana,” said the former MLA, who preferred not to be quoted.
However, Congress leaders in Telangana are incensed over this logic and are of the view that there is no point in Revanth Reddy submitting his papers to the TDP president even after quitting the party. “There is some meaning if he (Revanth) gave his resignation from TDP to Naidu, but no meaning in handing over his Assembly resignation to him (Naidu),” said senior Congress MLA Komatireddy Venkat Reddy.
Venkat Reddy refrained from raising doubts over the intentions of Revanth, but other Congress MLAs who are not comfortable with the hype generated by his entry into the party, are questioning the existence of the letter. A Congress MLA, who is unhappy with the admission of Revanth, a bitter critic of Congress till recently, is planning to join BJP, though the talks are in early stages.
This section of Congress leaders who are lukewarm to Revanth’s entry say that the image of Rahul Gandhi would be at stake if the MLA goes back on his resignation and continues to enjoy his Assembly salary and perks till the next elections. Revanth has announced that he won’t attend the Assembly and sent back the gunmen etc; but this section is not convinced until he gets his resignation accepted.
Revanth Reddy is believed to have told Rahul Gandhi that he and all his 18 former TDP MLAs, or in-charges of Assembly constituencies, were capable of winning the next elections and his resignation from Kodangal would be a morale booster for the party. Sources said that Rahul Gandhi would be embarrassed if Revanth goes back on his offer to quit.
Revanth is silent on his resignation from Assembly.
On the other hand, the ruling TRS has dared Revanth to resign from the Kodangal Assembly seat and seek a fresh election.