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  • As Telangana sentiment wanes, other issues bubble up, as do Congress hopes | Political Pulse News

As Telangana sentiment wanes, other issues bubble up, as do Congress hopes | Political Pulse News

The battle for Telangana is winding down to a contest of promises, with just about a week left for polling now. While the ruling Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) led by Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao or KCR is showcasing the state government’s welfare schemes, the Congress is projecting a slew of similar schemes it is pledging if voted to power.

Across large swathes of the erstwhile undivided districts of Nalgonda, Mahbubnagar, Nagarkurnool, the Congress appears to have a fresh energy in its ranks.

In the Assembly elections held in 2014 to a united Andhra Pradesh (Telangana was carved out soon after), the then incumbent Congress, despite a pro-BRS (BRS was formerly called Telangana Rashtra Samithi) wave, had got 25.20% of the votes, against the BRS’s 34% in the Telangana area.

In 2018 (when the elections were brought forward by the BRS government), both parties had seen a rise, to 28.70% for the Congress and 47% for the BRS. In terms of seats, it worked out to 63 and 88 seats out of 119 for the BRS, and 21 and 19 seats for the Congress, in 2014 and 2018 respectively.

The rise in BRS votes was attributed to the pro-Telangana state sentiment, as the party was widely perceived to be one of its key architects.

Festive offer

But that sentiment seems to have waned now. Very few people talk about the sacrifices that people, especially youth, made for the cause of Telangana statehood. Their concerns have instead shifted to issues like welfare schemes, government jobs, development, and civic infrastructure — and, evidently, the Congress.

Whether this perceived surge in people’s interest in the Congress will translate into votes come November 30 remains to be seen. And Telangana Congress chief A Revanth Reddy, who is spearheading the party’s campaign, is mindful of this, cautioning his party candidates not to get carried away by “hype” or depend too much on “surveys”. “Campaign hard, be in touch with the people and take advantage of the mood,” he told them at Nagarkurnool Tuesday.

In Nalgonda district, the Congress hopes rest on the Komatireddy brothers, Venkat Reddy and Raj Gopal, with the party celebrating his return from the BJP. The two brothers, together with their immense financial muscle, have thrown in their weight behind all the party candidates in this region.

In the 2014 polls, in the undivided Nalgonda district with 12 Assembly seats, the BRS had won 6 seats as compared to the Congress’s 5. In the 2018 polls, the BRS won 9 seats as against the Congress’s 3, which included the Nakrekal, Huzurnagar, and Munugode seats. The Congress later lost the Huzurnagar and Munugode seats to the BRS in the bypolls.

“Government schemes are here to stay, whatever be the party. The question is who will give more and from which party’s government more benefits will accrue. Voters are very wise these days,” N Vidyasagar, a student, says at Nakrekal.

At Cheruvugattu in the area, Pravin Chari, a diploma civil engineer, who calls himself a BRS supporter, is also sceptical of the ruling party’s chances. “Youth are a bit disappointed over lack of government jobs. I think that factor and the feeling that has settled among people that only pro-BRS beneficiaries have taken advantage, will result in tough contests all over Nalgonda,” he says.

At Deverkonda, former Communist SARPANCH??? M Ramesh Reddy says that the Komatireddy brothers are ensuring a “tough fight” between the BRS and Congress. “If the BRS has to win, all the beneficiaries have to vote for it,” he says.

The contest between the parties has now started coalescing around the “Indiramma rajyam (rule of ex-Prime Minister Indira Gandhi)” issue. At Nagarkurnool, a raucous crowd egged him on as Revanth countered KCR’s claims that the ex-PM’s tenure was marked by starvation, Naxal rise and fake encounters.

In the 2014 polls, in the erstwhile undivided Mahbubnagar district with 14 seats, the BRS had won 7 seats as against the Congress’s 5. In 2018, the BRS made a clean sweep in the region, bagging 13 seats while the Congress could get just 1 seat.

Congress stalwart Revanth Reddy is now contesting from the Kodangal seat here, while Jupally Krishna Rao, who quit the BRS to join the Congress, is another prominent contender from the district.

Nalgonda MP N Uttam Kumar Reddy and K Jana Reddy are also leading the party’s campaign in the region.

The Congress attempt to match the BRS in promises notwithstanding, sitting BRS Nalgonda MLA K Bhupal Reddy says the KCR government’s scheme legacy will result in a third straight win. “At least 70% of the beneficiaries will vote for the BRS,” says Bhupal Reddy.

In Alair, Jadcherla and Shadnagar areas, many supporters of the late Y S Rajshekar Reddy, the Congress leader who controlled the reins in united Andhra before his death, who had moved to the BRS in the 2014 and 2018 polls, also seem to be disgruntled this time.

Some of them say they participated in Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Yatra last year when it traversed the state.

Government jobs are a big issue among the youth here, says Narendra Goud, a Group 1 job aspirant. “And they feel the BRS has let them down. A majority of them attended Group 1 and 2 coaching classes at Hyderabad, but returned home disappointed.”

The BRS enjoys strong support from some BC (backward class) groups, especially occupation-based castes like Golla Kuruma to whom the BRS government has provided sheep in large numbers in Nalgonda and Mahbubnagar districts.

In Warangal district, it seems to be a tight contest between the BRS and Congress. “People love KCR, but I guess that after nine years, there is anti-incumbency. It depends on whether BRS schemes stand it in good stead or not. Farmers who receive Rythu Bandhu without fail may stick to KCR, but the Congress has promised to increase the amount soon after coming to power,” points out K Maheshwar Reddy, a farmer from Parkal.

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