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Mandava faces tough fight from former colleague

By Ravi Reddy

NIZAMABAD, APRIL 12. The Minister for School Education and four-time MLA from Dichpalli, Mandava Venkateswara Rao, is facing the toughest election in his political career spanning over 19 years.

The going would have been easy for the senior TDP leader but for the presence of the former party MP, Gaddam Ganga Reddy, as Telangana Rashtra Samithi candidate. The two leaders have been locked in a bitter feud for more than a year with Mr. Ganga Reddy accusing the Minister of neglecting the Dichpalli constituency, which has been a TDP stronghold since 1983.

The major grouse of Mr. Ganga Reddy is that the Minister has evinced no interest in completing the Rs. 300-crore Alisagar and Guthpa lift irrigation schemes intended to supplement the Nizamsagar tailend ayacut covering over 1 lakh acres.

Even as the rivalry continued, Mr. Ganga Reddy shocked everybody by staking his claim to the Dichpalli seat represented by Mr. Venkateswara Rao. As the TDP leader ignored his demand, Mr. Ganga Reddy faxed his resignation to the party supremo and joined the TRS. Mr. Venkateswara Rao was renominated by the party for the fifth time in a row and a few days later, Mr. Ganga Reddy walked away with TRS ticket.

With just nine days left for the conclusion of the high-pitch campaign, the contest in Dichpalli segment has assumed significance and in all likelihood it would be the most interesting electoral battle here. The two leaders have launched their campaign trying to woo voters in the seven mandals. The contest has become prestigious for both leaders as the outcome would decide their future political course.

Mr. Venkateswara Rao is harping on the slogan of development and the good work done by the ruling party. During his long political innings, Mr. Venkateswara Rao has nurtured the constituency well and his personal rapport with voters is widely known. The erratic power supply and the high electric bills could spell trouble for the ruling party from farmers. The poor irrigation sources in the constituency are another cause of worry for the TDP candidate.

The TDP received an unexpected boost as the senior Congress leaders -- A. Bal Reddy, a former MLA, and the PCC secretary, Mahesh Kumar Goud -- quit the party and joined hands with Mr. Venkateswara Rao. The move is likely to benefit the TDP.

Mr. Ganga Reddy is raking up Telangana sentiment which is very strong in the segment as was proved during the last local bodies polls. The School Education Minister is being branded a `settler,' whose parents had migrated to this district. The TRS leader, in his speeches, has repeatedly asserted that his main aim is to defeat Mr. Venkateswara Rao.

The TDP Minister is accused of neglecting Dichpalli and Mr. Ganga Reddy, is targeting him on this count. The TDP hit back at Mr. Ganga Reddy by labelling him a turn-coat and sheer `opportunist' who had changed political parties at his whims and fancies. They say the credibility of Mr. Ganga Reddy is at stake.

Mr. Ganga Reddy first won the LS polls in 1991 on TDP ticket but joined the Congress. Subsequently, he returned to the parent party only to desert it in favour of the TRS.


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