In a big boost to the opposition Congress in Telangana ahead of Assembly elections, former minister Jupally Krishna Rao and former MP Ponguleti Srinivasa Reddy on Monday decided to join the Congress.
They announced their decision after meeting Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge and MP Rahul Gandhi in the national capital.
Krishna Rao, Srinivasa Reddy, along with their followers and some other leaders, will join the Congress at a public meeting to be addressed by Gandhi in Khammam district on July 2.
In the meeting held at AICC headquarters, state Congress chief Revanth Reddy, MPs Uttam Kumar Reddy, and Komatireedy Venkat Reddy, MLA Seethakka and other leaders were present.
More than 30 Congress leaders from united Khammam, Mahabubnagar, and Nizamabad districts also attended the meeting.
After the meeting, Srinivasa Reddy told a news conference that after detailed discussions with followers and well-wishers and examining all aspects during the last six months, they decided to join the Congress.
He said they took the decision after reaching to the conclusion that only the Congress can stop the Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) from coming to power again in Telangana.
Srinivasa Reddy said they got several surveys conducted which reveal that 80 per cent of people are against the BRS government. He said they received offers from several parties including the BJP and the Congress and also smaller parties. They also discussed the proposal of floating a new regional party to counter the BRS but realised that such a move would split anti-KCR (as Chief Minister K. Chandrashekar Rao is popularly known) votes.
The former MP said people of Telangana would remain indebted to the Congress for creating Telangana state. He alleged that KCR could win the elections in 2014 and again in 2018 by making false and impractical promises and by misleading people.
Krishna Rao said they came out of the BRS due its "corruption, family rule and fascist approach".
Both the leaders were suspended from BRS in April for anti-party activities.
Krishna Rao had resigned from the Congress to join the BRS in 2011. He was elected from Kollapur constituency in Mahabubnagar district in 2014 on a BRS ticket. He felt sidelined in the BRS after MLA Harshvardhan Reddy, who had defeated him in 2018 elections, switched his loyalties from Congress to the BRS after the Assembly polls.
Srinivas Reddy, who was elected to Lok Sabha from Khammam on YSR Congress Party ticket in 2014, later switched loyalties to the BRS. He was unhappy after KCR denied him a party ticket for both 2018 Assembly and 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
Their joining is expected to be a shot in the arm for Congress party in united Khammam and Mahabubnagar districts. Both the leaders are considered influential in their respective districts and can influence the poll outcome in a few constituencies.
Srinivasa Reddy’s move is being seen as a big blow to BRS in Khammam district, which is located on Telangana’s border with Andhra Pradesh. The district has never been a stronghold of KCR’s party.
The Congress is said to have accepted Srinivasa Reddy’s demand to allocate tickets in eight out of 10 Assembly seats in Khammam district to his supporters.
Of these 10 seats, the Congress had won seven seats and Telugu Desam Party (TDP) two in the 2018 polls. The BRS could win just one seat. However, five of the Congress MLAS later defected to the BRS.