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Who Is Congressman Revanth Reddy, the New Chief Minister of Telangana?

A Revanth Reddy is headed to become the second chief minister of the youngest state in the country.

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(This story was originally published on 3 December. It has been republished from The Quint's archives with Revanth Reddy being named the next chief minister of Telangana.)

The Congress defeating K Chandrasekhar Rao's Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) in Telangana is historic in more ways than one – and the man who is largely being credited for the win, who was the face of the party's campaign, is someone who was nowhere near the Congress until six years ago.

And now, he is headed to become the second chief minister of the youngest state in the country.

The AICC on Tuesday, 5 December, named Anumula Revanth Revanth Reddy, the Telangana Pradesh Congress Committee president, as the Congress Legislative Party (CLP) leader in Telangana. He will take oath as chief minister of the state on Thursday, 7 December.

A Revanth Reddy is headed to become the second chief minister of the youngest state in the country.

TPCC president A Revanth Reddy in New Delhi to meet the Congress high command on Tuesday, 5 December.

(Photo: Accessed by The Quint)

Revanth Reddy, who won his Kodangal seat in the Assembly elections but lost Kamareddy to BJP's Venkata Ramana Reddy, joined the Congress in 2017 from the Telugu Desam Party (TDP).

But in a matter of four years, he took over as the party chief – albeit to the displeasure of the senior rung of Congress leaders in the state, including then-president Uttam Kumar Reddy.

A win this big seemed so unbelievable for the Congress – primarily because Revanth was struggling with a full-blown rebellion in the party just last year, with senior leaders like Dasoju Sravan and Komatireddy Raj Gopal Reddy joining the BRS and BJP, respectively.

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Traces of this rebellion was also visible in the way senior leaders reportedly opposed his elevation as chief minister after the party's comeback in Telangana on 3 December. Revanth had the support of a majority of the 64 Congress MLAs for the CM post, but others preferred Uttam Kumar Reddy, Mallu Bhatti Vikramarka, and Sridhar Babu.

From ABVP to TDP to Congress

Fifty-four-year-old Revanth Reddy, who hails from Kondareddypalli in Nagarkurnool district, started as a ZPTC representative in 2006 and an Independent MLC in 2008. He won his first Assembly election from the Kodangal constituency in united Andhra Pradesh in 2009. He was a TDP leader then – and is learnt to have been close to party president in Andhra Pradesh N Chandrababu Naidu. 

He defeated five-time MLA Gurunath Reddy of the Congress, which was no easy task. In an interview with Outlook, he said he "didn't even know where the constituency was." 

"It was the first time I visited that assembly constituency. I got only 14 days to campaign and I won with over 7,500 votes. It was against the Congress then, Kodangal was a stronghold of Congress, which it had won five times," he told the publication.
A Revanth Reddy is headed to become the second chief minister of the youngest state in the country.

A young Revanth Reddy (L).

(Photo: Accessed by The Quint)

He won Kodangal for a second time in 2014 for the TDP. In May 2015, however, the Telangana Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) arrested him over an allegation that he tried to bribe nominated MLA Elvis Stephenson to vote for a TDP candidate in an MLC election. The case is still ongoing.

By 2017, he had quit the TDP and joined the Congress.

He contested from Kodangal on a Congress ticket, but lost to BRS' (then Telangana Rashtra Samithi) Patnam Mahender Reddy. It was, in fact, during the 2018 elections that Revanth was yet againt arrested from his home as a preventive measure, after he claimed to stop KCR's rally.
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A Revanth Reddy is headed to become the second chief minister of the youngest state in the country.

Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi congratulate Revanth Reddy after he was announced as the CM.

(Photo: PTI)

After his loss in the Assembly polls, he managed to win the 2019 Lok Sabha elections from Malkajgiri a few months later. 

Revanth was also a member of the ABVP, the student wing of the RSS, back when he was in college. Throughout his campaign this election season, AIMIM chief and BRS' informal ally Asaduddin Owaisi had highlighted this fact, calling him 'RSS anna'.

In an interview with The Quint, Owaisi had said:

"Please remember that the present state Congress president [Revanth Reddy] has an RSS background. He worked in ABVP, he worked as a BJP member. When Mr Kishan Reddy had contested his first Assembly elections in 1999 against Mr Syed Sajjad who was an MLA, I had seen Revanth work for the BJP."

Even during Revanth's political ups and downs, what has remained constant is his fierce criticism of K Chandrasekhar Rao. But that didn't mean he found common ground with all Congress leaders.

A Revanth Reddy is headed to become the second chief minister of the youngest state in the country.

Revanth Reddy with AICC president Mallikarjun Kharge.

(Photo: PTI)

Rebellion Against Revanth

Revanth Reddy became the TPCC chief at a time when the Congress had faced defeat after defeat in Telangana. After the BRS (then TRS) reduced them to 18 MLAs in the Assembly in 2018 and engineered the defections of 12 others in 2019, the Congress was in desperate need of a win.

That, however, didn't come in subsequent by-elections either – including Huzurnagar and Nagarjuna Sagar, where Congress was strong. In the GHMC elections, the Congress was pushed to third place with the rise of the BJP.  

A leadership change was on the cards – but when the high command chose Revanth, someone who had joined the party only in 2017, the senior leaders were affronted.

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Things subsequently got worse a year later in 2022, when senior Congress leader Dasoju Sravan – who had earlier said that Revanth would make the party more "aggressive and assertive" – quit the party, saying:

"He is running the TPCC (Telangana Pradesh Congress Committee) as a franchise of AICC (All India Congress Committee)… He is handling the party as if it is (his) private property."

He also alleged that Revanth was "sidelining Scheduled Caste, Scheduled Tribe, and Backward Class leaders."

But soon, another one of Revanth's critics, Komatireddy Raj Gopal Reddy (who was Congress' Munugode MLA) quit the party, claiming that Revanth's management style was iron-fisted and did not fit the Congress' fluid nature of accommodating all leaders.

The party's decision to rope in election strategist Sunil Kanugolu, and Revanth's proximity to him, also did not go down well with the senior leaders.

But it appears that things took a turn for the better after the Karnataka elections when the Congress registered a massive win against the BJP. While leaders like the Komatireddy brothers, who have control over the Nalgonda region, still appear disgruntled with Revanth, one must wait and watch whether a much-needed win like this would change the party's course in Telangana.

Would Revanth be able to keep his flock together as CM? 

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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