While the Congress and the TDP leaders do not rate their chances of winning very high, the TRS candidate is sceptical of retaining his previous majority in the Kamareddi Assembly by-election. The reason being that Telangana sentiment which was so strong a few months ago is distinctly absent now.
Gampa Govardhan, who switched loyalties from the TDP to the TRS necessitating the by-election, is unlikely to exceed the 47,447 vote majority he secured in the 2009 general elections. The common voter appears indifferent and merely offers to vote for every party that approaches him for support.
The main contestants have pulled out all stops to woo voters by extensively touring the constituencies. The Congress has fielded a septuagenarian leader Yedla Raji Reddy after former Minister Mohammad Ali Shabbir refused to contest.
However, Mr. Shabbir Ali and Minister P. Sudarshan Reddy are shouldering the responsibility to ensure that Mr. Raji Reddy, who is DCCB chairman, puts up a good show. Having succeeded in bringing together all party leaders, they are campaigning on the plank that separate Telangana and development are equally important and that progress will get hampered if the TRS is elected.
Forty-two-year-old Nittu Venugopal Rao of the TDP, though a lightweight compared to Mr. Govardhan, is not new to politics, having scored a hat-trick as municipal councillor. A major factor in his favour is that the TDP cadre remains largely intact in spite of Mr. Govardhan's defection. The TDP's chief campaigner Mandava Venkateswar Rao, MLA, is targeting the TRS candidate and yet says that the TDP was not opposed to separate Telangana if it was delivered by the Centre. The TRS solely depends on sentiment and the image of Mr. Govardhan.
However, he also has some opposition among people this time. The party's star campaigner K.T. Rama Rao attacked the TDP on the ground that its nominee Venugopal Rao has roots in Andhra while Mandava hails from a settler's family. Surprisingly, there is lukewarm response from TRS cadre to the campaign.