The Congress seems to be writing the postscript on the Revanth Reddy episode. While resigning from TDP, Revanth announced that he was submitting his resignation for the State Assembly. Speculation was rife in political circles that the Speaker may not accept his resignation. The detractors of TRS have even interpreted that the ruling party may not be keen on facing Kodangal by-election.
With the TRS exhibiting its readiness for the ballot battle, the opposition camp seems to be in second thoughts. The Congress is not ready to plunge into a by-election that too before the General Elections of 2019. The nervousness in Congress camp is evident as the party leadership is not insisting on Revanth's resignation from the legislature. In fact, sources reveal that the Congress leadership has instructed Revanth not to press on acceptance of his resignation by the Speaker.
Speaking to this author, a top Congress leader said it is “too risky” to face an election as the TRS is in invincible position and any defeat would rob the Congress of the sheen it has gained after Revanth's defection. Revanth's defection was a morale booster for Congress. Until then all defections were into the ruling TRS. Defection of a senior leader like Revanth gave an impression that even the Congress is attracting leaders from other parties which would not have been possible without the party gaining on the ground. The Congress is in no mood to lose this new born enthusiasm. That's what meant by 'too risky.' In fact, the Congress top leaders even state that Revanth is also not interested in resigning from the Assembly membership.
Revanth Reddy who has surrendered his gunmen and PA indicating that he is quitting the membership of the house is now silent on his formal resignation to the House. This gives credence to the claims of Congress sources that he too is not keen on resigning as an MLA.
Interestingly, Revanth announced that he has sent in his resignation in the Speaker's format to the party chief N Chandrababu Naidu to forward it to the Speaker. But, the Telangana TDP leaders claim that Revanth has not submitted any such thing to Chandrababu Naidu. Revanth has not responded to these claims of Telangana TDP. Nor has he submitted any fresh letter of his resignation to the Speaker in case he feels that Naidu is not forwarding his letter.
This raises questions on whether or not Revanth submitted resignation to the membership of the Assembly. Interestingly, Telangana is witnessing a strange political spectacle wherein no party is ready to make a Halla Bol over non-resignation of Revanth. Each party has its own reasons. The Congress is not ready to take risk by facing a by-election that too after so much hype over Revanth coming into the party. Any defeat would mean a major embarrassment for the party. The TTDP is not even pressing for disqualification of Revanth over his defection as any such move would cause embarrassment to Chandrababu who back home encouraged defections of YSR Congress legislators and has not sought their resignation from assembly.
The TRS is ready to face election if it is thrust upon it but is not willing to invite it as the move would raise fresh demand for seeking the resignation of MLAs who defected to it. Kodangal cannot be singled out. Revanth's resignation to the House would give him a moral advantage as the TRS is already targeted for not facing by-elections in all those seats where MLAs have defected.
The TDP Supremo N Chandrababu Naidu reportedly instructed TTDP leaders not to move disqualification petition against Revanth and asked them to show restraint. There seems to be two reasons for this. The TTDP is not going to gain anything by moving this petition. It has no stakes even if there is by-election to Kodangal in the wake of Revanth’s disqualification.
The Speaker may not take a call on such petition as similar disqualification petitions are already pending before him. The most important reason, however, is that any such move in Telangana would create moral pressure on Chandrababu Naidu in Andhra Pradesh as the Speaker in that State is sitting over the disqualification petitions moved by the YSR Congress against its defected MLAs.
Political adversaries may dismiss Revanth Reddy's resignation as politically insignificant. But, notwithstanding such partisan opinion, the fact remains that the manner in which Revanth enacted his resignation episode certainly makes it politically significant.
First, Revanth not just resigned for the party but he has even announced that he is quitting the assembly. If it is true, the resignation paves way for a crucial by-election in Kodangal as it comes ahead of the 2019 General Elections. The political climate would thus be woven around him and his crusade against KCR. In case he wins, Revanth would evolve into a rallying force for all those who oppose KCR. On the other hand, he takes a moral high ground to exert pressure on TRS to seek the re-election of defected MLAs.
By praising the leadership of NTR and Chandrababu Naidu and cherishing his association with TDP, Revanth Reddy sent a positive message to all the TDP followers in the state. This would spur the TDP cadre and leaders who find no future in TDP to follow him, if not rally behind his leadership. Revanth's re-election in Kodangal would, therefore, result in exodus of TDP workers into Congress. His talk of political realignment can find echo in the state politics as it increasingly revolves around supporting or opposing KCR.
Any win for Congress in Kodangal will polarise politics in 2019 between it and TRS. The 2019 will witness political consolidation for and against TRS as the Chief Minister becomes an invincible leader in the state politics. There is an increasing restlessness in the non-TRS political circles that no other opposition party can on its own take on the TRS juggernaut. But such a possibility of realignment of political parties in 2019 may not be possible as they remain disunited.
The political spectrum is fragmented. The opposition political space is too crowded. The BJP cannot join the Congress, whether or not the party allies with the ruling TRS. The TDP camp will be divided between joining Congress and TRS. There is every possibility that a section of TDP leaders may join the Congress while the others may join TRS.
The CPI may join the Congress-led bandwagon while the CPI(M) may not as the party decided not to have any alliance with Congress. Thus, a complete political consolidation of anti-TRS camp is most unlikely. However, there can be polarisation of voters for and against TRS as the 2019 verdict turns into a referendum on the KCR rule.
The Congress needs augmented propulsion to effect the realignment of political forces and correlation of such forces in its favour. People's mandate in Kodangal by-election would usher in augmented reality for the grand old party in Telangana.
Notwithstanding such a clear political advantage, the Congress seems to be not ready for a by-poll. Such a stand of the party is not without reasons. KCR government is not facing any strong anti-incumbency. There may be pockets of discontent and voters’ disenchantment with some TRS legislators.
Victory for the opposition in by-poll would certainly galvanise such discontent obviously helping the Congress. But, the Congress lacks potency to take the risk. The costs of defeat are also very high for it. Hence, it feels that it is too risky to invite a by-election.