K Ramachandra Murthy
Leaders of the Congress party in the two Telugu States have been deserting the party at the drop of a hat. The irony is that those who were given plum positions by the party high command had preferred to join rival parties. Former Speaker of undivided Andhra Pradesh, Nadendla Manohar, is the latest to ditch the party that gave him an opportunity at a young age to preside over the 294-Member House and the clout that goes with it. Manohar, son of former chief minister, Nadendla Bhaskara Rao, has sent his resignation to the Congress and is about to join the Jana Sena Party (JSP), a fledgling party floated by Telugu actor Pawan Kalyan, the younger brother of Chiranjeevi. The megastar himself launched a party, Praja Rajyam Party (PRP) before 2009 elections. At that time he won 18 seats but could not run the party for more than two years.
Chiranjeevi subsequently merged his PRP with the Congress which made him a Rajya Sabha Member and a minister in the Union Government. Manohar is the second former Speaker to leave the party, the first being K Suresh Reddy who joined the TRS about a month ago. Kalvakuntla Taraka Rama Rao (KTR), caretaker IT minister and son of Telangana caretaker Chief Minister K Chandrasekhara Rao (KCR), went to Suresh Reddy’s house to invite the latter into the ruling party.
There are political families in the united AP whose members served as leaders of different parties. Neelam brothers, Sanjiva Reddy and Rajashekhar Reddy were in the Congress and the CPI respectively. Sanjiva Reddy was chief minister of AP twice. He went on to become the Speaker of Lok Sabha and the President of Indian Republic. Rajashekhara Reddy was an acknowledged intellectual and theoretician among the CPI leaders. The Chennamaneni brothers were in the CPI, TDP and the BJP. While the eldest brother Chennamaneni Rajeswara Rao was one of the tallest leaders of the CPI who in the evening of his political life opted to join the TDP, his younger brother Chennamaneni Vidya Sagar Rao was a senior BJP leader who represented Karimnagar in Lok Sabha for two terms and who is now the Governor of Maharashtra.
The first important leader to exit the party was Kiran Kumar Reddy, the chief minister who literally presided over the bifurcation although he opposed the division tooth and nail. He left the party that made him chief minister of an important State to float his own outfit which proved to be irrelevant scoring a duck in subsequent elections. He returned to the Congress fold recently although he had allowed his younger brother Satish to join the TDP. Daggubati Purandeswari, daughter of NT Rama Rao was made a minister despite protests by senior leader Kavuri Sambasiva Rao, an aspirant for a ministerial job. Purandeswari was a minister in both UPA-I and UPA-II and discharged her duties well. However, as soon as the State was bifurcated and it became crystal clear that the party is going to lose badly in the ensuing elections, Purandeswari and Sambasiva Rao jumped on to the BJP bandwagon. Purandeswari had contested from Rajampet Lok Sabha constituency on a BJP ticket and lost to Mithun Reddy of YSRCP. In Telangana State, Dharmapuri Srinivas who was PCC President twice and was made an MLC despite the fact that he lost in two consecutive Assembly elections, opted to join the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) which sent him to Rajya Sabha. He is now on his way back to the Congress complaining of disrespect in the TRS. Another leader who seldom won a direct election but was made a PCC President in the united Andhra Pradesh by the high command, K Kesava Rao, was the first to exit the Congress and join TRS. He won a second term in Rajya Sabha, thanks to TRS. Many MLAs and MLCs who were elected on the Congress ticket in Telangana have since migrated to the ruling party. There are several ministers in TRS government who were Congressmen and TDP members in their earlier avatars. The anti-defection law does not apply in Telugu States.
In Andhra Pradesh, not many Congress leaders opted to join the TDP or the BJP after the first batch of leaders made their choice before the general elections in 2014. Botsa Satyanarayana, who was also a PCC president and former minister, had joined the opposition YSRCP. 22 MLAs who won on YSRCP tickets were lured into the TDP and four of them were made ministers. Anam Ramnarayan Reddy, a former minister, had also joined the YSRCP. The cream of the Congress leaders in AP had joined YSR Congress Party launched by YS Jagan Mohan Reddy, son of late chief minister, Dr YS Rajasekhara Reddy. This exodus of Congress leaders to YSRCP took place before the polls. Kanna Laxminarayana was a senior Congress leader and former minister who left the party recently to become the president of AP unit of the BJP.
Manohar, 54, was elected to the Legislative Assembly in 2009 from Tenali constituency. A regular golfer, Manohar had conducted the proceedings of AP Assembly during trying times with dignity and finesse. He lost in the last round of elections. Manohar met Pawan Kalyan recently at a temple in Namburu village near Vijayawada and is reported to have discussed the possibility of his joining the JSP. TDP chief Chandrababu Naidu has been trying to sort out matters with Pawan Kalyan and take him back into his fold. He has asked his lieutenants belonging to Kapu community to open a dialogue with the film star-turned-politician. Manohar is the first established politician to join JSP which is mostly supported by Pawan’s fans and the youth belonging to Kapu community.
Also Read: Jana Sena Manifesto Vision Document