Re­vanth flip-flop on res­ig­na­tion em­bar­rasses Rahul

Rahul Gandhi will ad­dress a rally at Waran­gal on 20 Novem­ber and wants the res­ig­na­tion is­sue set­tled by then.

The Sunday Guardian - - Nation -

Elec­tion strate­gist Prashant Kishor (PK), who had emerged as In­dia’s first pro­fes­sional cam­paign man­ager in the run-up to the 2014 gen­eral elec­tions, where he was closely in­volved with Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi, is go­ing through chal­leng­ing times. Right now, Kishor, who was cred­ited with help­ing Ni­tish Ku­mar’s Janata Dal United (JDU) and Lalu Prasad Ya­dav’s Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) win the 2015 Bi­har As­sem­bly elec­tions, af­ter which he was en­gaged by the Congress for its cam­paign­ing in the Ut­tar Pradesh and Pun­jab polls, only has one party as his client—the YSR Congress Party or Yu­va­jana Shramika Rythu Congress Party. He is “help­ing” the YSR Congress Party through his In­dian Po­lit­i­cal Ac­tion Com­mit­tee (I-PAC).

I-PAC is work­ing on build­ing up the party’s Y.S. Ja­gan­mo­han Reddy as a pop­u­lar po­lit­i­cal brand and has coined a slo­gan, “Raavali Ja­gan, Kaavali Ja­gan” (want Ja­gan to come, need Ja­gan for pros­per­ity) to help Ja­gan win in Andhra Pradesh where elec­tions are due in May 2019. Peo­ple fa­mil­iar with the func­tion­ing of I-PAC said that a big “team” of I-PAC, which had ag­gres­sively re­cruited young grad­u­ates last year by of­fer­ing them lu­cra­tive salaries, is now func­tion­ing with a small team of around 50 peo­ple. This was was close to 200 when Kishor was work­ing in Pun­jab and Ut­tar Pradesh.

A source within I-PAC said: “Prashant Kishor has even told us not to take this as a per­ma­nent job and see this as a learn­ing phase where we will also get paid good salaries. Many of our col­leagues have left, many are al­ready search­ing for newer op­por­tu­ni­ties. We do not blame Prashant Kishor for any­thing. In Pun­jab, where our client won, the credit was usurped by lo­cal lead­ers and in UP, where our client lost, the re­spon­si­bil­ity was fixed on us.”

De­spite elec­tions be­ing held in Hi­machal Pradesh and Gu­jarat, Kishor’s ser­vices were not sought by any po­lit­i­cal party and the chances of him be­ing of­fered an op­por­tu­nity in Ra­jasthan, Mad­hya Pradesh, Ch­hat­tis­garh or Kar­nataka, where elec­tions are due in less than 12 months, are al­most neg­li­gi­ble. 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 by­elec­tion 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.

REUTERS

Peo­ple ride a boat as seag­ulls fly over the waters of the river Ya­muna on a smoggy morn­ing in New Delhi on Wed­nes­day.

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