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Neck-and-neck contest in Bhongir

Y. Mallikarjun
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It could be a touch-and-go affair and the going may not be that easy for the incumbent Congress MP Komatireddy Rajgopal Reddy from this Lok Sabha seat where his main rivals are a surgeon-turned-politician, Dr. Boora Narsaiah Goud of the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS), and veteran BJP politician N. Indrasena Reddy in a multi-cornered contest.

In the 2009 elections, Mr. Rajgopal Reddy, hailing from a family of politicians, made his electoral debut and defeated his nearest CPI (M) rival with a margin of more than 1.4 lakh votes. The CPI (M) then was part of the grand alliance formed by TDP, TRS and the Left parties. TDP joined hands with the BJP this time.

In all, 13 candidates are in the fray, including CPI (M)’s Cherupally Seetharamulu. Nominees of BSP, RLD, Jaisamaikyandhra party, AIMIM, Mahajan Socialist Party and three independents are testing their electoral fortunes.

Although three of the seven Assembly seats are held by Congress MLAs, group politics within the party might become a major headache for Mr. Rajgopal Reddy. His rivals and political observers feel that dissensions within the Congress might undermine his chances. The lack of adequate cadre in all the Assembly segments could be a major disadvantage for the TRS while the BJP’s presence is confined to a few urban pockets and the party would have to depend heavily on TDP in rural areas.  

Mr. Rajagopal Reddy is believed to be not seeing eye-to eye with senior Congress leader R. Damodar Reddy, who has following in Tungathurthy segment. Similarly, another Congress leader Chinthala Venkateshwar Reddy, who was denied ticket from Bhongir Assembly constituency, might not work wholeheartedly. Senior Congress leader Palvai Goverdhan Reddy’s daughter Palvai Sravanthi contesting from Munugode as a rebel after the seat was allotted to CPI and the reported differences between him and Telangana Congress Committee chief Ponnala Lakshmaiah (who is seeking re-election from Jangaon) as also with Alair Congress MLA Bikshamaiah Goud could pose problems for Mr. Reddy.

A positive development for Mr. Reddy was that two senior TDP leaders from Nakrekal and Munugode joined the Congress recently.

A school teacher cited “resentment” among people that not enough development has taken place in the constituency and growing pro-Telangana sentiment favouring TRS as the other factors that could spoil the chances of the sitting MP.  The teacher said there was no government degree college in Bhongir and good medical facilities were also lacking. Besides, people were facing water problem.

Mr. Rajagopal Reddy and his elder brother and former minister G. Venkat Reddy, however, are totally unfazed. They exuded confidence that Congress would not only fare well but form the next government by winning 12 of the 17 Lok Sabha seats and 70 of the 119 Assembly seats in Telangana region.

The message that Congress president Sonia Gandhi alone was responsible for creation of Telangana State has gone down to the people. Describing TRS as an issue-based party, they said the issue was closed as Telangana has already been achieved.

TRS nominee Dr. Narsiah Goud described the contest between him and Mr. Rajagopal Reddy as a fight between money and principles and disaster versus development politics. “I am sure people of Bhongir Parliamentary constituency will not succumb to money politics and rather vote for a person who sacrificed his profession, comfort for the sake of Telangana.” But for TRS president K. Chandrasekhar Rao’s commitment, neither Congress nor BJP would have thought of Telangana, he added.

BJP candidate, Mr. Indrasena Reddy, who is campaigning on the planks of development and good governance, said there was positive impact in some places because of the party’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi.

Referring to the fluoride problem in the areas falling under the constituency, he said there was a need for appointing a statutory body to tackle the issue.

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