Rajya Sabha MP K Kesava Rao Wednesday quit the Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) to join the Congress, making him the seventh elected leader of the K Chandrashekar Rao (KCR)-led party to switch allegiance to the grand old party in the recent past.

The party-hopping of BRS leaders comes at a time when Chief Minister Revanth Reddy, who is also the Telangana Congress president, is making trips to Delhi to discuss Cabinet expansion as well as finalize his successor for the state chief’s post. He is likely to hold discussions with the AICC top brass in this regard on Thursday.

Congress insiders say Reddy may be trying to “solidify” his base within the party by “absorbing” leaders from the BRS, before vacating the post of Telangana Congress chief. “It is natural that a leader looks out for himself in politics as well as in the party. It is more important for Revanth to do so as he has been at loggerheads with many senior leaders since his meteoric rise in the Congress,” a former Telangana Pradesh Congress Committee (TPCC) spokesperson said on the condition of anonymity.

Noting that the CM has the “largest say” in the appointment of a state chief, a party leader seen as close to Reddy also justified his approach as that of any other politician. “Revanth has found himself in the crosshairs of leaders since he joined the Congress. It is amazing how he kept the party united and single-handedly helped the Congress win last year’s Assembly polls. Now, to negate future threat to his standing within the party, he would like to make someone from his camp the TPCC chief. There is nothing wrong with that,” the leader said.

Revanth had joined the Congress in 2017 from the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) and rose to the TPCC chief’s position within six years, thus “antagonising” old-timers like deputy CM Mallu Bhatti Vikramarka, minister Komatireddy Venkat Reddy and others, who felt sidelined. .

Festive offer

Three of the six BRS MLAs who recently joined the Congress have previously been associated with the TDP, where they rubbed shoulders with the CM. They include former Speaker of the Telangana Assembly and Banswada MLA Pocharam Srinivas Reddy, Khairatabad MLA Danam Nagender, who lost the Lok Sabha polls to the BJP’s G Kishan Reddy from Secunderabad, and former Telangana Deputy CM and Station Ghanpur MLA Kadiyam Srihari.

The others – Kale Yadaiah (Chevella MLA), Tellam Venkat Rao (Bhadrachalam) and Sanjay Kumar (Jagtiyal) – however have had no association with the TDP.

As per one Congress leader, the association of the party-hoppers with the TDP, and by extension Reddy, in the past had nothing to do with them joining the Congress now. “The Congress did not do particularly well in last year’s Assembly polls as well as the recent Lok Sabha elections in the regions from where the BRS leaders are joining. The sole purpose of bringing them in is to strengthen the party. Their induction has nothing to do with their politics in the past,” the leader said.

A section of the Congress leaders said leaders from other parties in urban areas of the state were ready to cross over to the Congress even before the Lok Sabha polls. This has gained further momentum after the BRS drew a blank in the elections, two Congress leaders from Hyderabad said.

BRS spokesperson Dasoju Srravan said KCR is making efforts to arrest the outflow of leaders. “However, the Congress is blackmailing and buying them. They are making a mockery of the very Constitution, a copy of which they flash in Parliament,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Telangana Congress too is facing its share of “exit threats”. Recently, MLC Jeevan Reddy, miffed with the induction of Sanjay Kumar, threatened to quit and join the BRS, and was coaxed into staying back by Revanth Reddy and the AICC top brass. Sources said he agreed to stay back on the promise of a lucrative post in a commission.

Srravan said the Congress should be wary about the repercussions of inducting BRS leaders. “This only exposes the hypocrisy of the Congress. While on the one hand, Leader of the Opposition (LoP) in the Lok Sabha Rahul Gandhi is batting for stronger anti-defection laws, Revanth in Telangana has been leading efforts to lure BRS leaders away,” he told The Indian Express.

Interestingly, the six MLAs who have switched sides are yet to resign from the Assembly, where the BRS’s strength is currently 39.

Ironically, after the 2018 Assembly elections, when the BRS (then the Telangana Rashtra Samithi) won 88 of the 117 seats, it had gradually increased its tally to 103 through the induction of MLAs from other parties like the Congress, TDP and YSR Congress ( YSRCP).