Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Friday warned party leaders from Telangana of stern action if they take their internal struggles to the media, and also cautioned that indiscipline would not be tolerated in the organisation, as the southern state heads to early assembly elections.

Gandhi issued the stern warning at a meeting he had with 38 leaders, including All India Congress Committee (AICC) in-charge RC Khuntia and state chief Uttam Kumar Reddy. He later met the leaders individually.

Earlier this month, Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) president and chief minister K. Chandrasehkhar Rao dissolved the state assembly, paving the way for early elections in the state. The Congress, Telugu Desam Party and the Left have allied in a bid to unseat the TRS.

“The Congress president has asked all the leaders to bury their differences and unitedly work for the party. If any leader has any grievance, the person can approach the top central and state leadership for redressal,” Khuntia said after the meeting.

“Gandhi warned the leaders against giving negative news to the media under any circumstances,” he added.

Infighting has plagued the Congress in Telangana for many years . A section in the party has repeatedly demanded removal of the state party chief for his “failure” in addressing factionalism in the organisation.

On the proposed alliance with the TDP and other parties, Khuntia said the Congress is not averse to such a partnership to defeat the TRS in the upcoming assembly elections.

Although the party is keen on an alliance, he added, it was also clear that it would not sacrifice seats it had a chance of winning. An alliance had to recognise the Congress’s strengths, Khuntia said.

Khuntia said state leaders have requested Gandhi to address 10 meetings in as many districts in the coming days. “But these will not be regular public meetings. These will be on key issues such as atrocities on Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, distress faced by the farmers, and unemployment,” he added.

Political experts said the warning was much needed at a time when the Congress was gearing up for a crucial election. “Rahul Gandhi needs to enforce this warning strictly because the Congress is very weak in Telangana and to give a fight to TRS it needs to have a disciplined force,” said Hyderabad-based political analyst C Narasimha Rao.


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