I’m prodigal son of Congress: Ex-Andhra MP on return to party!

IANS: At a time when hordes of former Congress stalwarts in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana are abandoning the party to salvage their political futures, a former Member of Parliament (MP) from Rajamundry plunged back into the party recently.

G.V. Harsha Kumar, 61, former Amalapuram MP declared his allegiance to Congress and the Gandhi family for the second time in the presence of former Kerala chief minister Oomen Chandy, Pradesh congress committee (PCC) president Sailajanath, Telangana Congress leader V. Hanumantha Rao, Koppula Raju and others. “I am the prodigal son of Congress. It is true and the party hugged me like the father of a prodigal son,” he asserted on being taken back into the party’s fold and Gandhis care.

He said Rao played an active role in the reconciliation, followed by Raju showering with him with love, a close aide of Rahul Gandhi. “Next is Koppula Raju, I cannot forget his love. With his encouragement I could come back to the party,” said the two-time MP from the scheduled caste (SC) reserved constituency. According to Kumar, after Congress lost power in 2014, poor people in the country are going through difficulties while the corporates are rising with plundered booty being fed to them.

In his speech to a few hundred people who gathered in what looked like a hotel’s banquet hall in Rajamundry, Kumar opened up that he questioned himself as to why he left Congress? A closer examination of his loyalties in the aftermath of former united AP chief minister Y. S. Rajasekhar Reddy’s death reveals a thing or two about the inner workings of Kumar’s thought process.

Kumar was one of the first Congresspersons, along with Rao to undermine the legacy of Reddy, who played an instrumental role in resurrecting Congress in AP with his long padayatra. Back then, after September 2, 2009, when Reddy succumbed in a chopper crash, Kumar claimed that he did not win the Amalapuram Parliamentary election with Reddy’s photo but Sonia Gandhi’s.

As Congress party was expected to touch its nadir post bifurcation, Kumar joined the slippers emblemed Jai Samaikyandhra Party floated by Nallari Kiran Kumar Reddy, last chief minister of united AP. However, Telugu Desam Party (TDP) romped home victorious in 2014 elections, upsetting many aspirants like Kumar.

Before the 2019 elections, Kumar again jumped ship, this time into TDP. When he joined the party, which was born to defeat Congress, Kumar touched the feet of Nara Chandrababu Naidu and sought his blessings. Though he was longing for a TDP ticket to contest in 2019 elections, Naidu did not favour him. Almost a year and a half after 2019 elections, Kumar changed his mind to get back to Congress, in which he worked as a student leader in Andhra University.

Kumar was psychologically preparing everyone for this event as he regularly extolled the Gandhi family here and there and endeared himself to them on the social media. “When I prayed to God that when I will get a chance in Congress, I remembered the Hatras incident. I saw how Rahul and Priyanka Gandhi faced the police,” Kumar claimed.

He said the indomitable spirit of the Gandhi siblings moved his so much that he wanted to get to them and work alongside. “Then I realised that this is what I wanted. They are warriors. We have Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi, I will team up with them. I will bear their flag as a team member,” said the former Parliamentarian.

Praising Sonia Gandhi as the greatest leader he had ever seen in his life, Kumar reminded his supporters that she sacrificed the Prime Minister’s job back in 2004 even though people like him fasted for four days for her to take up the top job. He said Rahul Gandhi could have become the PM in just two minutes had her mother thought of making him so but she did not choose to do that.

The leader from Rajamundry disagreed with Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) writing off the Gandhi family as a dynastic family and claimed that it was the only political family in India which still lives in a government bungalow without owning their own home since independence. Kumar declared his loyalty to Sailajanath, a former Congress minister and current PCC president, a powerful position at one time, and said that he will take the Congress party into the masses.

From his Congress reconciliation stage, Kumar threw a ferocious challenge to the ruling Yuvajana Rythu Congress Party (YSRCP) and prophesied that the Congress will return to power in 2024 in the state. “But I am telling you today, AP people got cheated twice with two parties (TDP in 2014 and YSRCP in 2019), but third time (2024) they will not get cheated. Congress will come to power. All the people are looking at congress party,” he claimed.

Waxing eloquent on the grand old party, he said Congress is a party of peace and prosperity which does justice to everyone. “Atrocities on Dalits are happening everywhere from Kashmir to Kanyakumari, in Rajasthan (actually a Congress-ruled state), Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. Atrocities on minorities. Did we see these kinds of atrocities during Congress,” he posed.

Kumar said the governments at the Centre as well as in the state are not fulfilling the bifurcation promises such as special category status, funds to Polavaram project, railway zone and others. He accused the TDP of creating an impression that it was working for achieving these goals from 2014 to 2019 and the same thing with YSRCP now.

Meanwhile, a Dalit leader and a political observer from YSRCP ridiculed Kumar as a slave of the Gandhi family. “When Sonia Gandhi was bifurcating the state, Kumar was mum. In fact, he let his two sons loose, who ran on the streets attacking people who demanded Kumar to oppose the bifurcation and protested outside his properties,” told Talluri Raj Kumar, a YSRCP leader from neighbouring West Godavari district.

Debunking Kumar’s claims, Raj Kumar recollected that Kandhamal riots occurred in 2008 when Sonia Gandhi was the most powerful person in India. “She did not say a word condemning the Kandhamal riots. A nirbhaya gang rape occurred in 2012 December when Congress was in power at the Centre as well as in Delhi,” Raj Kumar noted.

The YSRCP leader said Congress is a gone case in AP which will never return to even become a proper opposition party, forget about capturing power. However, only time will tell what lies in store for Kumar in the Gandhis’ Congress.