Hyderabad: The bypolls to Telangana’s Nagarjuna Sagar Assembly constituency slated on April 17 has yet again become a battleground for key political parties as they have roped in thousands of their supporters for the election campaigning. At the outset, the election appears to be a fight between Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) candidate, Nomula Bagath Kumar, son of former MLA late Nomula Narsimhaiah and senior Congress Leader K Jana Reddy, 7-time MLA from the constituency.
After the bypolls were necessitated following the sudden demise of sitting MLA Nomula Narsimhaiah on December 1 last year, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was the first among the political parties which began its campaign but was last in announcing its candidate as Dr Panugothu Ravi Kumar Naik, who belongs to the Lambada community that is a Scheduled Tribe (ST).
After winning in the Dubbak bypoll and securing 48 divisions (out of total 150 seats) in the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) elections, the top BJP leaders have several times, claimed their rivals that it will emerge victorious in the Nagarjuna Sagar Bypoll.
On the other side, the Congress was quick to announce the candidature of Jana Reddy, who has been unofficially campaigning seeking votes. Whereas, TRS declared its candidate only a day before the last day for filing nominations, as there were numerous aspirants for the MLA ticket among their party members. However, Bagath Kumar, who was hardly active in the TRS party while his father was the MLA, toured the constituency for the last three months, beginning his campaign.
Speaking to NewsClick, Bagath Kumar said that the welfare policies of TRS government and the work done by his father as MLA will ensure his victory. “When in power, Jana Reddy was never available to the people of the constituency. He has failed as a leader and several people are even boycotting him from campaigning in their villages,” said Kumar.
While the TRS is relying on its large cadre base in the constituency, the Congress wants to get hold in its traditional stronghold. Jana Reddy was elected a MLA from the constituency seven times (twice on Telugu Desam Party ticket and five times from Congress).
“TRS leaders are misusing their power to mislead the people,” said K Jana Reddy during his election campaign. The 74-year-old senior leader has been pointing out the unimplemented promises of TRS during his campaign there.
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“There was a time when Jana Reddy used to win the constituency easily but he has lost both his charisma and cadre. Most of his supporters while he was MLA and minister are now campaigning for the TRS,” said Srinivas from Peddavoora Mandal in the constituency.
A total of 41 candidates are in the contest with about 13 independent candidates in the fray.
The constituency which spans over seven mandals has 2.3 lakh registered voters. Majority of the voters belong to Yadav community (OBC) and Lambadas (ST).
During the 2018 elections, Narsimhaiah won against Jana Reddy with 7,771 votes. BJP’s K Niveditha Reddy had managed to secured only 2,675 votes at that time.
“The work done by Nomula Narsimhaiah to the constituency during his tenure as MLA is visible. Majority of the MPTCs (Mandal Parishad Territorial Councils), ZPTCs (Zilla Parishad Territorial COuncils) and Sarpanches in the constituency are from TRS. Rythu Bandu, pensions to senior citizens and irrigation projects started by the TRS government will ensure the party’s victory,” said Rajesh Naik, TRS party member in Peddavoora.
Earlier in February, Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao visited the constituency and inaugurated several projects promised by Narshimaiah in their election manifesto.
“The BJP is focussing on increasing its cadre and vote base in the rural constituency,” a BJP member told NewsClick, requesting anonymity. However, he added that the saffron party is seeing positive results as it is increasing its membership among the rural youth.