While one sitting MLA of BRS has already announced to join the Congress after she was denied renomination, another MLA, whose demand for a ticket for his son was ignored, is reportedly in touch with the opposition party to switch sides.
The Congress, which already attracted few dissidents from the BRS last month, may try to queer the pitch for the ruling party in a few segments by luring rebels with tickets.
A day after Chief Minister and BRS President K. Chandrasekhar Rao announced candidates for 115 out of 119 Assembly seats, the reports from districts say that the dissidence is confined only to a few constituencies.
The BRS leadership has managed to placate some sitting MLAs and aspirants, who were denied tickets, with the promise to give them other opportunities.
In fact, the announcement of 115 candidates in one go, and that too 3-4 months ahead of the elections, is seen as a masterstroke by KCR to unsettle the opposition. The ruling party is trying to project this as its self-confidence, daring both the Congress and the BJP to announce their candidates in one go.
With KCR denying tickets to only eight sitting MLAs, BRS leaders are saying that the Chief Minister has given a befitting reply to state Congress President A. Revanth Reddy, who had challenged him to contest the elections by fielding the sitting MLAs.
However, the decision of KCR to contest from two seats gave the opposition an opportunity to claim that he is fearing defeat.
Revanth Reddy had dared KCR in the past to contest again from Gajwel, the seat he won in 2018. The BRS chief has decided to contest both from Gajwel as well as Kamareddy.
The Congress is upbeat as immediately after KCR declared the list of candidates, one of the sitting BRS MLAs who was denied ticket announced that she will join the Congress.
Rekha Nayak, who represents the Khanapur constituency, was denied renomination by KCR. Her husband Ajmeera Shyam Naik joined the Congress late on Monday. Interestingly, even before formally joining Congress, she has applied for a party ticket from the same constituency. Shyam Naik has also applied for a ticket from Asifabad.
Rekha Naik was first elected from Khanapur (a constituency reserved for Scheduled Tribes) on a BRS ticket in 2014. She was re-elected in 2018. After she was denied a ticket for the third term, she alleged that KCR is worried that after her victory, she may demand a Cabinet berth.
Meanwhile, another sitting BRS MLA Mynampalli Hanumanth Rao is reported to be in touch with the leaders of the Congress. Though the BRS has renominated him from the Malkajgiri constituency, it turned down his demand for a ticket for his son Rohith Rao from Medak.
Hanumanth Rao, who along with his son is still in Tirupati, said he would decide his future course of action after returning to Hyderabad.
He justified his demand for a ticket for his son, saying that he is doing social service.
“I am giving an assurance that if my son is given the ticket, he will win,” said Hanumanth Rao, making it clear that his son is more important to him.
On Monday, a few hours before KCR announced the candidates, Hanumanth Rao had lashed out at Minister for Finance and Health, T. Harish Rao, alleging that he spoiled the political career of many leaders.
His attack against the minister and top BRS leader, who is also the nephew of the CM, stunned many in the party circles.
The MLA had threatened that he would contest the elections as an Independent candidate if his son was not given a ticket from Medak constituency.
The BRS, however, decided to renominate sitting MLA Padma Devender Reddy from Medak.
The ruling party may also face problems in Palair constituency, where former Thummala Nageswara Rao’s loyalists are up in arms over denial of ticket to him. BRS has given ticket to Kandla Upender Reddy, who was elected on a Congress ticket in 2018 but later defected to the BRS.
Nageswara Rao was elected on a BRS ticket from Palair in the 2016 by-election. In 2018, he lost to Upender Reddy.
Upender Reddy was one of a dozen Congress MLAs who defected to BRS after getting elected as Congress candidate in 2018.
BRS, which had won 88 seats in 2018, increased its tally to 104 by luring MLAs from the Congress, TDP and a couple of Independents. The KCR-led party had adopted the same strategy to consolidate its position after winning the 2014 elections.
In fact, many of the top leaders of BRS had come into the party from either Congress or TDP.
KCR himself was with the TDP. He had quit the party to float Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) in 2001 to revive the movement for statehood to Telangana.
Last year, KCR had rechristened TRS as BRS to expand the party in other parts of the country.