Thursday, July 25, 2024

Jolt to Cong in Telangana as senior leader quits

In a jolt to the Congress party in Telangana ahead of next month’s Assembly elections, senior leader and former TPCC chief Ponnala Lakshmaiah resigned from the party on Friday, alleging injustice to backward classes within the party.

Ponnala, who had served as a state minister in the undivided Andhra Pradesh, turned emotional while announcing his resignation before the media.

He said he was snapping his 40-year long association with the party as he was unable to bear the insult and ridicule he and other BC leaders were being subjected to in the party.

The senior leader sent his resignation to AICC president Mallikarjun Kharge, citing an unjust environment in the party. He stated that individualism seems to have taken precedence and newcomers are being unfairly elevated to power.

Ponnala alleged that when a group of 50 BC leaders from Telangana visited Delhi to request priority for BCs in allotment of tickets, they were denied a meeting with AICC leaders. He said even he was denied appointment for 10 days to meet AICC General Secretary K.C. Venugopal.

He also wrote that in 2014, he was unfairly blamed for the party’s defeat in Telangana despite the party’s nationwide setback. “Even in the 2018 elections, there was no significant progress, yet no corrective actions were taken. On the contrary additional positions were given,” reads the letter.

After bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh in 2014, Ponnala was appointed first state president of the party in Telangana.

Hailing from Munnur Kapu BC community, Ponnala hails from Jangaon district. He had worked as a minister under five chief ministers in united Andhra Pradesh. He held the irrigation portfolio in the cabinet headed by Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy. He remained a minister under YSR’s successor Rosaiah and held the information technology portfolio in the government of Kiran Kumar Reddy.

An MS from Oklahoma University, Ponnala worked in the US from 1969 to 1978. On his return, he joined the Congress party. He was first elected to Andhra Pradesh Assembly from Jangaon in 1989. He was later elected for three consecutive terms from the same constituency.

Ponnala, however, lost the election in 2014 and in 2018. He resigned after it became clear that the party may not give him a ticket this time.

He is likely to join the ruling Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS). He hinted this in his resignation letter by praising BRS for making even small BC leaders MPs and MLCs.

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