HYDERABAD: Former minister and senior Congress leader Marri Shashidhar Reddy’s exit from the grand old party has come as a blessing for the BJP, which wants to grow inorganically by attracting prominent faces from other parties in order to defeat the ruling TRS in the next Assembly elections.
Shashidhar Reddy (73), who is late former chief minister of erstwhile Marri Chenna Reddy’s son, may not be eligible to contest in the elections due to the age limit rule in BJP. The base of his followers may also have eroded in recent years, which may not be able to directly benefit BJP in electoral politics. But his very exit from the Congress, the party which generations of his family have served, makes a huge statement.
“He is not only the son of a stalwart but also is one who played a crucial role along with former union minister S Jaipal Reddy in convincing the Congress high command to grant statehood for Telangana. His vast political experience as MLA for four terms, and as a leader who has played an important role in the national politics, will definitely help BJP in many ways,” said DK Aruna, BJP national vice-president. Aruna was the one who took him to Union Minister for Home Affairs Amit Shah on Friday, after which the decision was taken to welcome him to the party. Arun herself is a former Congress leader who also served as a Minister in Congress cabinets.
Shashidhar Reddy is widely acknowledged as an intellectual, who carries exceptional academic credentials in the field of agriculture. As the former vice-chairman of the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), and as the former convener of the national task force on Naxal violence, he has extensive knowledge on issues affecting the people of the country. His knowledge in irrigation, energy, internal security, foreign affairs and subjects of local, national and international affairs puts him on par with the national-level think tanks of BJP.
“A person hailing from the family of Congressmen leaving the party because it has no future gives a psychological advantage to the BJP, as people are looking at the saffron party as an alternative to TRS in Telangana. Even those in the inner circle of Sonia Gandhi are leaving Congress and this carries a strong message. Those who have resolved to defeat TRS come what may, are joining the BJP, which needs a person of his stature with experience to make that happen,” said BJP MLA Eatala Rajender, who is the chairman of BJP’s party joinings committee which has been entrusted with the responsibility of onboarding the leaders from other parties into BJP. “One victory will cover up many mistakes, but one loss will expose many mistakes,” he pointed out, at the Congress’ loss in Munugode byelection held recently.
Long list of Cong leaders joining BJP
There is a long list of Congress leaders joining BJP in the last couple of years.Among the prominent faces was former MP Konda Vishweshwar Reddy, who is the grandson of freedom fighter and the first deputy chief minister of erstwhile AP Konda Venkata Ranga Reddy, another Congress stalwart.
Former MP and actress M Vijayashanti, who had fought alongside Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao during the Telangana movement and then shifted her loyalties to Congress, was elevated to the post of the chairperson of the TPCC campaign committee. She joined the BJP and has been the party’s celebrity face and a strong voice against the ruling party. Former GHMC mayor Banda Karthika Reddy and her husband, former MLA Kuna Srisailam Goud, former minister Mukesh Goud’s son Vikram Goud, and many others have left the Congress in recent times to join BJP.