An uneasy Congress faces phase 1

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On the edge: Left parties in Nalgonda and Khammam districts are expected to tilt the balance in favour of the alliance.
On the edge: Left parties in Nalgonda and Khammam districts are expected to tilt the balance in favour of the alliance.

Ravi Reddy

Telugu Desam- led Grand Alliance is slowly but steadily consolidating itself in south Telangana

Tug mainly between Congress and Grand Alliance; PR, LSP, BJP presence negligible

People inclined to weigh basic issues like power, loan waiver in favour of a party

HYDERABAD: Electioneering hasn’t reached a feverish pitch and it is unlikely to especially in the south Telangana districts, thanks to the Election Commission’s restrictions.

The slow and steady consolidation of its position by the TDP-led Grand Alliance is worrying the Congress in the run up to the first phase slated for April 16 in the districts of Mahabubnagar, Nalgonda, Khammam and Ranga Reddy, all in south Telangana where the separate statehood demand is rather weak. Left parties in Nalgonda and Khammam districts is expected to tilt the balance in favour of the alliance like they did in the 2004 elections when they supported the Congress.

A close fight is on cards in the region with the Congress taking on the Grand Alliance led by Telugu Desam Party, which is going ahead with renewed vigour after joining hands with its new found allies to “end what it calls the corruption-ridden Rajasekhara Reddy government.”

A drive through six Parliamentary constituencies showed the fight is only between the Congress and Grand Alliance while Praja Rajyam, Lok Satta and BJP have a lesser presence.

Rebel trouble

The rebel trouble, faulty selection of candidates and lack of ground-level coordination have complicated matters for the Congress as well as the ‘mahakootami’. Dr. Rajasekhara Reddy is the visible face of his party with people choosing to support rather than repose faith in the local Congress candidates.

People in constituencies like Shadnagar, Jadcharla and Mahabubnagar near Hyderabad are angry at the TRS for whipping emotions over separate Telangana and causing a crash in real estate prices. Voters in Makthal, Narayanpet and Devarakadra constituencies bordering Karnataka are indifferent to the Telangana sentiment.

The fate of TRS president K. Chandrasekhar Rao in Mahabubnagar Lok Sabha constituency depends on the extent to which TDP followers support him. Union Minister Renuka Chowdary’s bid for a hat-trick appears dim as Congress rebels have queered the pitch. Suravaram Sudhakar Reddy (CPI) is finding the going tough against a spirited fight being put up by Gutha Sukhender Reddy of the Congress.

Voters have resolved to take their final decision on issues like power supply, loan waiver and welfare schemes of the Congress government. “Erratic power supply and long cuts are a nightmare,” M. Krishna of Palamakula in Rajendranagar constituency, said. But M. A. Nabi of Midjil in Nagarkurnool constituency disagreed, saying that the power situation was no different during the TDP rule.

For people like M. Balu Naik of Balanagar mandal in Jadcharla constituency, police cases registered against 45 farmers last year for agitating against power cuts and fertilizer shortage is still fresh in memory. K. Malla Reddy of Buggabavigudem in Miryalaguda constituency says free power is of no use when Transco fails to repair faulty transformers quickly.

Waiver of farm loans, though widely welcomed, has created resentment among some small and marginal farmers, who were earlier coerced to repay loans. “Revenue officials arm-twisted us to recover loans,” says K. Rama Rao in Nelakondapally of Palair Assembly constituency in Khammam.

Welfare schemes

The State government’s welfare programmes have indeed impressed many people. “I am contended with a ration card, Arogyasri and pension for my old parents,” G. Guruvaiah, a vegetable vendor in Nalgonda Assembly constituency, said.

Diehard supporters of alliance also acknowledge the benefits of welfare schemes but blame corruption among lower rung officials which brings notoriety to the Congress. TDP’s free colour TV and cash transfer scheme is welcomed by commoners, while the educated lot questioned Mr. Naidu’s credibility.

A government teacher, who wished anonymity in Devarakonda Assembly constituency, points out that spiralling prices, had upset middle and lower income groups who might be carried away by the freebies.

“A leader like Chandrababu Naidu, who dropped the Rs. 2 a-kg rice scheme and enhanced the prices, has no right to seek votes,” says an elderly farmer Ranga Rao in Huzurnagar Assembly constituency.



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