In a strategic move aimed at asserting its commitment to the empowerment of weaker sections, particularly Dalits, the Congress party announced on December 7, 2023, the appointment of Gaddam Prasad Kumar as the Speaker of the Telangana Legislative Assembly.
The move is seen as a calculated political maneuver, emphasizing the party’s dedication to inclusivity and representation.
Gaddam Prasad Kumar, a soft-spoken and non-controversial former minister, secured his political journey by being elected from the Vikarabad SC constituency.
His entry into the Assembly dates back to 2009 when he first represented Vikarabad on a Congress ticket in the combined state of Andhra Pradesh.
Kumar served as the Minister for Handlooms and Textiles in the Kiran Kumar Reddy cabinet from 2012 to 2014, witnessing the bifurcation of the state into Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.
Despite facing defeat in the 2014 and 2018 Assembly elections against Bharat Rashtra Samiti (BRS) candidates B. Sanjeev Rao and Dr. Methuku Anand, respectively, Kumar made a triumphant comeback in the November 30 elections.
In a significant turn of events, Gaddam Prasad Kumar defeated the incumbent BRS MLA, Dr. Methuku Anand, by a substantial margin of 12,893 votes.
Kumar secured 86,885 votes, signaling a notable shift in the political landscape.
The victory paved the way for his appointment as Speaker of the Telangana Legislative Assembly.
The announcement makes Gaddam Prasad Kumar the first Dalit Speaker of the Telangana Assembly since its bifurcation.
Notably, Madhusudhana Chary was the first Speaker post-bifurcation, followed by Parige Srinivas Reddy from 2018 to 2023.
While Srinivas Reddy has been re-elected from Banswada constituency, Madhusudhana Chary currently serves as a Member of the Legislative Council.
The Congress party’s decision to appoint a Dalit as Speaker sends a clear message of its dedication to the empowerment of marginalized communities, particularly Dalits.
The move is part of a broader strategy, as the party has also appointed Mallu Bhatti Vikramarka as Deputy Chief Minister, placing Bharat Rashtra Samiti (BRS) and the BJP in a challenging position.
The BJP, in its efforts to appeal to the Dalit electorate, openly supported the sub-categorization of Scheduled Castes (SCs) by aligning with the dominant Madiga sub-caste in Telangana.
By choosing a Dalit as the Speaker, the Congress party has not only emphasized its commitment to social justice but has also posed a challenge to the BJP’s attempts to consolidate the Madiga vote bank.
As Gaddam Prasad Kumar assumes the role of Speaker, the political dynamics in Telangana are expected to witness significant shifts, with the Congress party playing the Dalit card to shape the narrative of inclusivity and representation in the state’s legislative affairs.