Not just Eatala, at least a dozen leaders have jumped the fence in the last seven years by switching their ideologies and by not unduly worried about political ethics. Tula Uma, who joined the BJP along with Eatala, was also associated with far left wing groups.
Eatala was an active leader of Progressive Democratic Students Union, a student wing of the CPI (Marxist-Leninist) New Democracy, a splinter group of Naxalites, in the early 1980s. Without batting an eyelid, Eatala said: “My DNA is secular. My agenda now is neither right nor left. My only agenda is to get Telangana rid of the dictatorial and feudal rule of KCR.”
Once staunch Congress leaders, G Vivek Venkatswamy, Ponguleti Sudhakar Reddy and Gudur Narayan Reddy are now with the BJP. Businessman-turned-politician AP Jithender Reddy served as Mahbubnagar MP twice — once as a BJP member between 1999 and 2004 and as TRS MP in the 16th Lok Sabha between 2014 and 2019. When denied ticket by the TRS, he again went back to the BJP in June 2019 along with DK Aruna, who served as a Congress minister in united Andhra Pradesh.
Political analyst S Ramakrishna attributes this to leaders growing fond of authority and not wanting to give up their control. “During the ’80s, leaders wore their ideology on their sleeves. Now, it’s all about wielding power and having clout. Take a look at the leaders in Telugu states, a majority of them have changed one party or the other.”
Some leaders say their ideological affiliations in their younger days have got nothing to do with the present day demands of political arthimetic. “Till ’90s, because of oppression, there was a constant need to agitate and fight for rights in Telangana. Now, we are in the process of rebuilding. President Obama won the US elections based on the concept of perhaps only one word — Change,” a senior BJP leader, not wanting to be named, pointed out, saying ‘change’ is the buzzword in politics.
Congress MLA Danasari Anasuya alias Seethakka, who was once a gun-toting Naxal dalam commander, says joining a political party does not mean moving away from serving people and forgetting one’s ideology. “I had a purpose when I was with left wing groups. But, I realised soon I can serve people better if I join the mainstream,” Seethakka says. She gave up arms in 1997 and joined the TDP in 2004.