Hyderabad: Former minister and senior leader Danam Nagendar has blamed caste discrimination within party ranks in Telangana for his decision to quit the Congress.
Nagendar’s resignation was seen as a huge setback for the Congress in Telangana as he was quite influential in Hyderabad and the surrounding areas, winning the Asifnagar assembly seat thrice and heading the Greater Hyderabad unit of the party.
Nagendar, who served as a minister in Y.S. Rajasekhar Reddy cabinet, is expected to join the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) party shortly.
There is also speculation that another senior leader and former Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) from Hyderabad, Mukesh Goud, together with his son Vikram, will also follow the suit.
Addressing a press conference on Saturday, Danam Nagendar lashed out at the party’s state leadership for neglecting backward castes leaders. He claimed that only leaders from one caste — Reddy — were being given preference when it came to picking party posts.
Earlier, Danam, a backward class (BC) person, said BC leaders like K. Keshav Rao and D. Srinivas had also quit Congress, having been tired of the humiliation, only to join the TRS. He pointed to how a leader like Ponnala Lakshmaiah had also been neglected in a similar manner, with the party not even informing him about a public meeting in his own district.
In a clear indication that he was headed towards the ruling TRS, Nagendar showered praises on Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao and compared him to former Chief Minister Y.S. Reddy for his hard work and innovative policies.
“I feel proud looking at KCR and his work”, he said.
Danam is the latest name in the long list of key leaders who left other parties to join TRS. In view of the factional fight in the Congress, K.C. Reddy has stepped up efforts to attract the leaders of other parties.
This setback for Congress has come at a time when it was showing the first signs of its recovery from a long hiatus and proving itself to be a formidable challenge for the TRS.
State Congress president N. Uttam Kumar Reddy left for Delhi this morning after being summoned by the central leadership of the party.
Earlier this week, a group of state Congress leaders met party president Rahul Gandhi In Delhi and voiced their frustrations.
Meanwhile, V. Hanumantha Rao, another senior Congress leader from the backward class, has backed Nagendar’s claims.
“But there is no question of me becoming afraid of upper caste domination and leaving the party,” he said.
Hanumantha Rao pointed out that he would remain in the party till his last breath.
“If there is an injustice with the backward classes, we should raise our voice on the party forum and fight against it. I will remain [in] the party and will work to bring the party to power in 2019,” he said.