KCR strong in Gajwel & Kamareddy, despite headwinds

KCR in Nanded
Gajwel voters
Group of villagers at Jaligoan, in Gajwel assembly constituency 


Rama Krishna Sangem

A breezy day long tour is not enough to exactly know the pulse of voters, but it definitely gives us an indication of general public mood. Telangana Chief Minister and BRS boss K Chandrasekhar Rao appears to be in a strong position in both the seats he is contesting this time – Gajwel, his present constituency and Kamareddy, second option. His opponents are strong, but he is stronger.

The headwinds are from different parties – Congress and BJP. KCR’s main opponent in Gajwel is BJP’s Etela Rajender while the CM faces a challenge from Pradesh Congress Committee president A Revanth Reddy in Kamaerddy. Interestingly, KCR also faces challenge from BJP candidate Venkat Ramana Reddy in Kamareddy. So, who will finish third in Kamareddy will be an interesting question.  

This is the first impression I got after a crisp, yet cool tour of these two seats on November 20, Monday. I along with four other senior journalist friends went round parts of Gajwel and parts of old Nizamabad district, mainly to assess the levels of electioneering on the ground. Polling is still full eight days away. As our experience shows, the actual process of tilting scales among voters will happen just two days before November 30.

This tilting happens in two ways – direct distribution of money, ranging from Rs 2,000 to Rs 5,000 per vote, depending on the nature of requirement and weaning away of opponent’s local leaders or community leaders. As I observed, this stage of tilting scales is underway in both Gajwel and Kamareddy. Public are ready to talk to the media, unlike in the past when they used to give evasive replies or shy. Here are some trends.


All welfare beneficiaries are not BRS voters

All the beneficiaries of government welfare schemes will not vote for the ruling party – BRS. When we talked to some working class voters – roadside at the local Veg & Non Veg Market at Daultabad X Roads, some of them said, they would vote for Rajender, of BJP. They were the beneficiaries of welfare schemes -pensions etc; When my colleague asked what about the good roads in Gajwel, a woman replied: “Will we sleep on the roads? We need houses”.

Interestingly, most of Mudiraj community people, to which Rajender belongs to, and Madigas (SCs) are talking in favour of BJP, while several Reddys are supporting Congress candidate Narsa Reddy.  Gong by the general talk, Narsa Reddy may finish third, leaving the contest between KCR and Rajender. Shopkeepers, retired employees and petty traders are with KCR.

For them, Gajwel’s development matters most. “We get the best facilities like wider roads, good power supply etc. We want to retain KCR with  a good majority,” said a retired headmaster. Muslims of Gajwel are generally with BRS as Congress either hasn’t yet approached them or they see the party as a marginal force here. BRS is well placed to get every of its committed vote and poach into the rival camps.

A major problem for KCR is his inaccessibility. “We cannot meet him or contact him. There’s no other way, we can get our problems solved, though CM is our MLA,’ said a ladies emporium shop owner in Gajwel. Smaller leaders of BRS are either powerless to solve these problems or seek money to take their problems to the notice at higher levels – maybe to the notice of in charge of KCR’s farmhouse, at  Errabelli, nearby Gajwel town.

At Jaligoan, a nearby village, we met a group of old men, most of them are Madigas. They said, they would vote for either BJP or Congress, but not KCR.  Reason for this is they want categorization of SCs where Madigas will get a better sub quota. BJP has promised this recently. Many Madigas from Gajwel went to a recent meeting of  PM Modi in Secunderabad in support of Madiga sub quota, Madigas account for 70 per cent of SCs here.

Madigas leader Manda Krishna is expected to tour these villages this week, so that he can moblise votes for Rajender. But, Rajender is fighting a tight battle in his home Huzurabad seat and also touring here and there elsewhere in Telangana, his full availability in Gajwel is doubtful.  BRS is doing better poll management in Gajwel as minister Harish Rao is the in charge of KCR’s campaign here. KCR may win, but with a slender margin against Rajender.   


Triangular advantage to KCR

In Kamareddy, the situation is otherwise. KCR.  He faces PCC cheif Revanth Reddy and BJP’s Venkat Ramana Reddy here.  This triangular contest may help KCR win this seat. Unlike Gajwel, Kamareddy is better developed area – is on the national highway –  Hyderabad- Nagpur and a commercial hub. BJP’s Ramana Reddy has begun his efforts to win this seat for well over six months.

He spent huge amount of money in cultivating contacts with many villages. A group of people sitting at a tea stall near Municipal Office told us that it would have been better, if Revanth didn’t contest from here – and leave the seat to local leader Mohammed Ali Shabbir, who is now contesting from Nizamabad Urban seat. “We will vote for Ramana Reddy, but not sure, if he wins,” said a local builder of real estate sector. Agreed, his other friends.

Triangular contest in Kamareddy may even prove dangerous to Revanth, who is projected as the CM candidate of Congress. If BJP get the second spot, which is likely, then Revanth may finish poor third, putting him bad light. BRS leaders and supporters are confident that their votes are intact. Both the Reddys’ will only split the opposition votes. Still youth, tribals and wage earners appear to be with Congress here.


Muslims advantage to Shabbir

In Nizamabad Urban seat, former minister Shabbir Ali is strongly wooing Muslims votes – which will be around 70,000 out of the total 2.70 lakh. Their poll percentage maybe less in the past, but this time it may go up, because of Shabbir’s stature among them. We attended a street corner meeting of him in Muslim dominated area of Nizamabad city. He spoke of importance education and reservations to Muslims.

Around 1,000 burqa clad women sat in the chairs, and lustily cheered at him. Shabbir Ali asked them to send him to the assembly so that he can fight for the Muslims of entire Telangana. He chaste Urdu speech won vigils from the youth too. BRS MLA Beegala Ganesh Gupta is confident of win for a third term. “We have the support of our loyal base, mostly beneficiaries of welfare schemes.

Here too is a problem of triangular contest. BJP’s Dhanpal Suryanarayana Gupta began his campaign on a full stream two-three weeks ago, but people say, he slowed down a bit now. After Muslims, Munnur Kapus are the second largest social group -around 35,000 votes – in Nizamabad city. But, Congress and BRS are trying hard to win their support. Of course, to win them, the candidates should make solid offers to them. 

Whoever, makes the best offers will them. Many other communities are there but they are evenly divided between the three parties. Vaishya got only one ticket each from BJP and BRS (Congress hasn’t given them any), though they play a bigger role in businesses. Ironically, the two Vaishyas are fighting in Nizamabad – Gupta Vs Gupta. So, only one Vaishya MLA will be there in the next assembly.

Why I said headwinds to KCR in the beginning, it is because of the harsh ground situation. We all know, he is the chief architect and CEO of BRS campaign. Even after implementing such a large number of welfare schemes and developmental achievements in 9 years, the ruling party is forced to spend huge amounts to win the polls. This shows the level of strong anti-incumbency at the ground level. Where the tends end or bend is to be seen.

Rama Krishna Sangem

Ramakrishna chief editor of excel India online magazine and website

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