The Man Who Took On Tallest Leader Of Telangana

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Telangana Elections 2023: 'Tiger Revanth': The Man Who Took On Tallest Leader Of Telangana

Congress leader Revanth Reddy will be sworn in as Telangana Chief Minister on Thursday (File).

Hyderabad:

There is a reason Revanth Reddy is referred to as Tiger Revanth by his admirers. That is because he bides his time and attacks ferociously at the right moment. And when he is under attack, or faces a political storm, he fights back and fights fiercely.

On July 1, 2015, when Revanth Reddy came out after spending a month in Cherlapally jail, accused in the note-for-vote case, (where he was caught on camera trying to bribe a legislator to vote in a particular way on behalf of Chandrababu Naidu) he had declared that his one-point agenda was to defeat KCR. He converted the embarrassment and humiliation of being sent to jail into an opportunity to pit himself against the tallest leader of Telangana.

Ever since Revanth Reddy has worked towards his goal. In 2017, he told Chandrababu Naidu that there could be little future for him in the Telugu Desam Party and joined the Congress.

In June 2021, he became the state Congress chief, amid allegations that he had paid a huge bribe to bag the post. At that time, the Congress was perhaps at its lowest, in threat of being wiped out politically in the state.

There on, he prepared his pitch, attacking KCR and the BRS governments in a manner that demanded attention. All this while he was firefighting attacks from colleagues from his own party. Even during ticket distribution, there were allegations that he had “sold” tickets and the BRS nicknamed him “Rate-entha Reddy”, mocking him as being morally and politically corrupt. KTR referred to his past links with the RSS and Chandrababu Naidu, saying voting for him would be a vote for the BJP or even the Telugu Desam.

Revanth Reddy played all criticism with a straight bat and hit them out of the boundary.

The real story of how Revanth Reddy won his first election as a Zilla Parishad from Midgil in Telangana’s Mahbubnagar district is an eye-opener.

It was 2006. Twenty one contestants were in fray and Revanth Reddy tried to convince each of them to withdraw. By its end, only one candidate from the Congress, (Sankireddy Jagadeeswar Reddy), known to be close to YSR, who was Chief Minister at the time, refused to step aside.

Revanth Reddy searched out nine people in the area with a similar name and got them to contest the election. The confusion caused among voters split the votes and Revanth Reddy, an Independent, won the election. He won as MLC in 2007, again as an Independent, after which he met Chandrababu Naidu and joined his party.

In 2009, Revanth Reddy was given the B form at midnight by Chandrababu Naidu to contest from Kodangal.

He said he had to find out where the assembly constituency was located, then go and file his nomination papers the next morning because it was the last day. It took him two weeks to win the election, polling over 46 per cent of the votes.

Mr Reddy, 54,  is not from a political family but doesn’t shy away from admitting that he is politically ambitious and always looked to exploit the opportunities that came his way. Born in an farming family, one of eoght 8 siblings, he graduated with a visual arts degree from Osmania University.

Mr Reddy dabbled with small businesses, real estate, set up a printing press. That was when he met his wife Geetha, who is the niece of late Congress leader Jaipal Reddy. They met on a boat ride at Nagarjunasagar and the love story could pale a Bollywood romantic flick.

A friend who knew Revanth Reddy back then says it was his daring nature and dashing personality that attracted his future wife.

Her family was not in favour and sent her off to college in Delhi, to live with her uncle Jaipal Reddy, but that did not end the romance. They married in 1992 when he was 23 years old.

Geetha says she had not wanted him to pursue a career in politics but eventually realised that he was driven by his passion to make a mark in politics and made peace with the idea.

The couple has a daughter, Nymisha, and now a grandson, Reyansh, who was born in April this year. “Reyansh has been lucky for his grand-dad,” a beaming Nymisha told NDTV.

The grandfather is often photographed with the baby boy. Even when he went to file his nomination papers at Kodangal, he had held up a rather peaceful baby before huge crowds like a favourite trophy.

The story goes that Nymisha had wanted to go abroad to pursue higher studies but the doting father said then he would also have to shift abroad. So her plans had to change.

Revanth likes to say that his stint with the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, the student wing of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, was his student days in politics.

In 2001-02, he joined the then recently formed TRS, but felt he did not get adequate political opportunity and shifted to the Telugu Desam, which, he says, was his junior college. The Congress he calls University.

He had entered this so-called “University” on the invitation of Rahul Gandhi, who spotted his talent. Digvijaya Singh was talking to him and Rahul Gandhi took the initiative forward. He says he initially refused but joined six months later.  

In all his political life of about 20 years, Revanth Reddy has always been in a party that was not in power. Much like a student, he was in protest mode, criticising what was wrong with what the ruling party was doing.

Now comes the opportunity to test if he has learnt his lessons of governance and administration.

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