Can TRS spring a surprise in Huzurnagar?
Looks like a see-saw battle between pink party and Congress; Multi-cornered contest spices up the show
Looks like a see-saw battle between the pink party and Congress; Multi-cornered contest spices up the show
Huzurnagar: Shankaramma is peeved with the TRS government. A small-time shopkeeper and fruit vendor in Palakeedu mandal of Huzurnagar constituency, she pours out her woes. "We earn Rs 200 a day on average. Is it possible to run a family of four with that income?" she asks. Her husband helps her in her small business when he is not busy as a daily wager. She has two daughters one of whom is an unemployed graduate. "It's a Herculean task for people like us to get our children educated. What is the point in spending money on education when there are no jobs?" she retorts.
She feels that schemes like Rythu Bandhu and loan waivers, which are guzzling down fat budgetary allocations, are only helping the rich get richer. "There are no schemes for the upliftment of the poor. Not a single person in our village got government house after TRS came to power. Every family needs a roof over its head even if it doesn't have enough food to eat. No jobs, no houses for the poor," she points out
But Shankaramma is not alone in venting anger against the government. As I travelled across Garidepally, Neredcherla, Palakeedu and Huzurnagar mandals of this high-profile constituency that goes to by-polls this Monday (October 21), many expressed similar views, an indication of growing disenchantment with the pink party.
But will this trend hamper winning chances of TRS in the by-elections? An election is a complex process in which myriad factors play key role. Huzurnagar, a relatively young constituency formed in 2009, has traditionally been a Congress bastion with Nalamada Uttam Kumar Reddy, current president of Telangana Congress and a four-time MLA, winning it since inception. His recent victory came in December last year when TRS Chief Minister KCR called for early Assembly polls, but he resigned as MLA post his victory as Nalgonda MP. His wife Padmavathi Reddy is in the fray now, but the real contest appears to be between TRS and Uttam. His indelible imprint on the constituency is clearly visible as people attribute all the development here to him. That's his key strength in these elections.
However, Uttam is facing the biggest challenge of his political career because TRS, which fielded Sanampudi Saidi Reddy, is leaving no stone unturned to wrest the seat from him and his family at any cost. Saidi Reddy lost to Uttam by a margin of around 7,500 votes in 2018. A defeat now will diminish Uttam's influence in Telangana Congress.
Over 20 MLAs, MLCs, several ministers, and more than 1,000 TRS leaders from other parts of Telangana, are deployed Huzurnagar to keep the pink flag high in the constituency this time. Despite the ongoing TSRTC strike creating negative vibes against the ruling dispensation and visible anger among government employees, TRS seems to have several factors working in its favour. Foremost among them are schemes like old-age pensions, Rythu Bandhu. A section of people has sympathy towards TRS and wants to give it a chance as the pink party has not won here till date. As it's a by-election and there is the TRS government at the top, they feel a TRS MLA may bring development. Furthermore, Uttam's wife, not Uttam, is the candidate and the TPCC chief is already an MP, they say.
The battle is primarily between Congress and TRS, but BJP seems to be gaining traction as some feel Congress is no match for KCR-led TRS in Telangana. TDP, which has good support base in the constituency that has borders with AP, has fielded a woman candidate, while a couple of independents are also active, spicing up the multi-cornered contest. In 2018, it was near one-to-one contest between Uttam and Saidi Reddy as Congress joined hands with TDP and other parties under Mahakutami banner. BJP was in the fray then too, but it could manage just 1,500 votes. No surprise if TDP, BJP and active independents play spoilsport and mar prospects of one main candidate or the other in this elections. And, the role of money power can't be ruled out and it's not easy for Congress to match ruling TRS on this front. Remember 2018 Assembly elections in Kodangal where young A Revanth Reddy suffered surprise loss. But he has a good following in Huzurnagar!
"It would have been a different ball game had Uttam Kumar Reddy been in fray. Moreover, there is some sympathy for Saidi Reddy and TRS. But it's a keen contest though," feels Naveen, a young voter in Neredcherla. Can TRS spring surprise in Huzurnagar? You never know, but it's not easy to tame Uttam Kumar Reddy in his own constituency as he, locals say, has the knack of turning tide in his favour even at the eleventh hour. And he has developmental works to showcase and bank on.