HYDERABAD: After two and a half years of intense Telangana movement, there is a great demand for Congress party tickets to contest by-elections. Several leaders are vying with each other to contest the March 18 by-elections in six Assembly constituencies in the Telangana region. They are even organising demonstrations before the chief minister's camp office here to exhibit their strength and put pressure for tickets.
After the advent of the TRS and intensification of the movement for separate state, by-elections have been held four times since 2004. Congress cadre did not show any interest in contesting by-elections, leave alone demanding party ticket. The then chief minister YS Rajasekhara Reddy forced Telangana leaders T Jeevan Reddy and A Indrakaran Reddy to contest the 2006 and 2008 by-elections in their respective districts. Similarly, the party forced the then PCC president D Srinivas, former minister MD Ali Shabber and several others to test their luck in the by-elections in their respective constituencies in 2010.
After the unexpected defeat in the 2010 by-elections, Congress MLAs faced resignation demand from Telangana forces and were unable tour their respective constituencies. Party leaders even maintained a low profile in politics. This situation changed with the Banswada by-election. There was demand for party ticket for natives and opposition to field outsiders.
Now, the Election Commission has notified by-elections for seven Assembly seats _ six in Telangana and one in coastal Andhra. With the heat generated by the Telangana movement subsiding, party leaders and cadre have mustered courage to demand party tickets.
A large number of leaders and activists from the Kamareddy Assembly constituency staged a demonstration at the CM's camp office on Sunday, urging chief minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy and PCC chief Botcha Satyanarayana to select senior leader Shabber Ali as the party's candidate. They handed over to him a resolution adopted by the party committees in the constituency favouring the candidacy of Shabber Ali and faxed a copy of it to the party high command.
"We are not bothered about the election results but are determined to enter the poll fray to minimise TRS' influence on voters and to expose the drama it is playing in the name of Telangana," a Congress leader said.
Former minister G Chinna Reddy's supporters also organised a demonstration at the CM's camp office on Sunday, seeking ticket for their leader for the Kollapur seat. At one time Chinna Reddy, disgusted with the T issue, decided to quit politics altogether. With the party's position improving in the region, he has changed his mind and decided to continue in politics. Hence the demand for party ticket for him.
According to several other leaders, the situation is more or less similar in the southern and northern Telangana. "If we utilise the opportunity thrown by the by-elections, the party will stand to gain in Telangana,” a senior leader told Express.