FOR PRIME MINISTER Narendra Modi, the choice of Telangana MP G Kishan Reddy to join his Government may have brought back a memory of 25 years ago. In 1994, Modi, then 44, and Reddy, a 30-year-old student leader, travelled to the US to participate in the American Council of Young Political Leaders (ACYPL), which enables political leaders to familiarise with international affairs. “Even at that time, he (Modi) used to ask questions and keep writing in a notebook,” recalls Reddy, going down memory lane seeing a photograph, showing a clean-shaven Modi standing next to him outside the White House. During the 40-day programme, they visited eight states.
At that time, neither may have imagined that their paths would cross again in the way it did in Delhi— with Modi as Prime Minister and Reddy in his team of Council of Ministers. A first time Lok Sabha MP, Reddy is Minister of State for Home. “I want to do something for the welfare of home guards and constables,” he says, sitting in his North Block office, with pictures of various gods on a table in a corner. It is a subject close to his heart, considering that he had undertaken agitations seeking better salaries and living conditions for home guards.
Reddy’s inclusion in the Modi Government is also seen as a boost to the morale of the BJP’s cadre, which had been playing second fiddle to TDP
Wearing a saffron Nehru jacket, teeka and a traditional Andhra turban, Reddy had taken everyone by surprise, ending his oath with “Bharat mata ki Jai”. Of the 17 Telangana seats, the BJP won four, including Nizamabad, held by Chief Minister Chandrasekhar Rao’s daughter K Kavitha. The state was part of a plan drafted by BJP President Amit Shah, now Home Minister, to expand BJP’s footprint in seats beyond its strongholds. Apart from Karnataka, Telangana is the only southern state where BJP has made inroads in this Lok Sabha election, doing better than Congress, the ruling TRS’ main opponent. The party failed to win any seat in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala.
Reddy, who was given a ticket to fight from Secunderabad after former Union Minister Bandaru Dattatreya was denied one, is the sole representative of the Telugu-speaking states in the Modi Government. As a teenager in 1977, inspired by Jai Prakash Narayan, Reddy joined the movement against the Emergency, as an ordinary worker with the Janata Party. He joined the ABVP, the student wing of the RSS, and later, the BJP’s youth wing. He gradually went up the ranks in BJP, which he had joined when it was founded in 1980. A three-time MLA, he won two consecutive terms from Amberpet. He had lost in the December, 2018 Assembly election to TRS’ Kaleru Venkatesh, when his party won just one of the 118 seats it contested. Reddy’s inclusion in the Modi Government is also seen as a boost to the morale of the BJP’s cadre, which had been playing second fiddle to TDP. Buoyed by the Telangana results, the BJP is cashing in on the opportunity to tighten its hold over the state.