Indirectly naming its Chief Ministerial candidate for Telangana in the 2019 elections, the Congress Party declared that Captain N Uttam Kumar Reddy would lead the party campaign in the Assembly elections.
All India Congress Committee General Secretary in charge of Telangana, RC Kuntia declared that Rahul Gandhi had made it clear to him that Telangana Pradesh Congress Committee president Uttam Kumar would lead the party campaign in the 2019 Assembly elections. And, the party is confident of staging a comeback in the state with a positive vote for having granted statehood to Telangana and also consolidating the anti-establishment vote. “Rahul would visit the state frequently to prepare the party rank and file for the election,” he said. The party, he said, has no electoral tie up proposals as of now.
Kuntia was interacting with the media on his maiden visit to Telangana in his capacity as AICC in-charge. It may be mentioned that Congress chief Sonia Gandhi had on August 1 removed Digvijay Singh as the party Telangana in-charge and appointed Kuntia in that post.
“Rahul Gandhi told me that I would be the AICC in-charge, Uttam Kumar Reddy and the party present committee would continue to be in office till 2019 elections. There will be drastic changes in the coordination committee and some other areas in the next one month,” Kuntia said. He said the party high command is very happy with the performance of Uttam and his team.
The Congress does not have the practice of naming its CM candidate before elections. “It is inferred often,” Kuntia said, however, maintaining, “If you give the guarantee that the party would come to power if the CM candidate is announced, we will do.”
Uttam, who belongs to the powerful ruling Reddy community, faces resent in the party from seniors. Some of them belong to his own community. Some of them exhibit their resentment against him by praising the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) government headed by K Chandrasekhara Rao. “Such elements would get the stick,” Kuntia warned in clear terms.
Kuntia made it clear to the party senior leaders at his first interaction at Gandhi Bhavan that nobody who praises the government would be spared of disciplinary action. He also said the party would not wage any personal attack on the chief minister but would target his government on public issues.
The party also assured its ticket aspirants that the candidates for all the constituencies would be announced well in advance.
Who is Uttam Kumar Reddy?
Fifty-five-year old Uttam Kumar Reddy is a former fighter pilot in the Indian Air Force (IAF). He flew the MiG 21 and MiG 23. He had also served as the Controller of Security, Protocol, Administration and Foreign Trips of President at Rashtrapathi Bhavan, He currently represents Huzurnagar constituency in Suryapet district in the Telangana Assembly.
Two years ago, he started growing a beard, vowing to shave only after bringing the Congress to power. He trims it but has not shaved it since then. The ruling TRS made fun of him saying he would never get a chance to shave his beard if he sticks to his vow.