Hyderabad: A move by two senior political leaders to join the Congress party has suddenly put the grand old party in the driver’s seat in the forthcoming assembly elections in Telangana.

Lok Sabha MP (member of Parliament) Konda Vishweshwar Reddy quit the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) on Tuesday and joined Congress a day later, while prominent backward classes leader R. Krishnaiah entered the party a few days earlier, his name figuring in the Congress’s fourth list of candidates released on 19 November.

Reddy, who joined the TRS in 2013 and supported the Telangana statehood movement, resigned his Chevella parliamentary seat.

An entrepreneur from an illustrious family, the former MP met Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday. His grandfather is Konda Venkata Pratap Reddy, who was deputy chief minister of undivided Andhra Pradesh.

His departure is likely to impact the TRS’s performance in the assembly segments falling under the Chevella parliamentary seat.

Telangana Pradesh Congress Committee (TPCC) treasurer Gudur Narayana Reddy was confident that his party will win a handful of assembly seats with Vishweshwar Reddy’s help.

“We will win seats which are not ours (won by TRS in 2014 state polls) like Tandur, Chevella and Vikarabad," Narayana Reddy told Mint, adding that the Congress-led grand alliance in Telangana will win more than 72 of the 119 seats in the 7 December polls.

The alliance also includes the Telugu Desam Party (TDP), Telangana Jana Samithi and the Communist Party of India. Prominent backward classes leader R. Krishnaiah’s presence in the Congress is also expected to boost the alliance given that backward classes make up 53% of the population in Telangana. Krishnaiah, will contest from Miryalaguda. He had won the L.B. Nagar seat on a TDP ticket in the 2014 assembly polls.

“The grand alliance will now get an additional 10% of the vote share and we are definitely going to get close to 80 seats," he said.

In a letter to TRS chief K. Chandrashekar Rao, Vishweshwar Reddy said the ruling party is becoming “more and more distant from the people" and that the government was “becoming inaccessible to the people". The TRS MP from Karimnagar B. Vinod, however, said Konda Vishweshwar Reddy’s departure will have no impact on the elections, as it was simply because of local issues that he left.

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