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In southern Telangana, statehood not all that counts
Though the Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) is riding the statehood issue, it may find the going tougher in the seven south Telangana districts than in the north. South Telangana’s seven districts form 12 Lok Sabha constituencies and 87 Assembly constituencies. TRS won only two Lok Sabha seats here in the 2009 elections.
At least 25 assembly constituencies in the districts of Hyderabad, Ranga Reddy, Medak and Mahbubnagar have a sizeable population of people from Seemandhra, who may turn to Jagan Mohan Reddy’s YSR Congress Party (YSRCP) or Chandrababu Naidu’s Telugu Desam Party (TDP). In the other constituencies in these four districts, the Congress has always been very strong, as also in Warangal, Nalgonda and Khammam.
Of the 14 assembly constituencies in Ranga Reddy district, 10 have a sizeable number of voters who are traditionally from coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema. Of the 15 assembly constituencies in Hyderabad district, the Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM) is strong in seven while the remaining seats are dominated by people from Seemandhra and are traditional Congress strongholds. Three constituencies out of 14 in Mahbunagar and three out of 10 in Medak district also have enough ‘Seemandhra’ votes to go against the TRS.
The LS constituencies in Hyderabad and its suburbs — Malkajgiri, Hyderabad and Secunderabad — are totally urban. The Chevella LS seat has the IT hub of Cyberabad as well as some of the most backward villages. MIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi is hoping for his third straight win from the Hyderabad Lok Sabha seat and the ninth for his party.
“These 20-25 constituencies in and around Hyderabad are crucial for any party to get a clear majority. The TRS hardly has any presence here. Voters may swing in favour of TDP-BJP but I think it is YSRCP that will get the maximum benefit. In 2009, the Congress won 17 seats from Hyderabad and suburban constituencies,’’ says political analyst Telakapalli Ravi.
Secunderabad Cantt Board vice-president V Jaiprakash says the issues in the highly urbanised areas in and around Hyderabad are different from those in the rest of Telangana. “People are concerned about traffic congestion, pollution, safety of women, etc,” he says.
Move out of these urban and semi-urban segments, and unemployment, shortage of drinking water and lack of irrigation are major issues. At Kazipet in Warangal district, every other youngster is either a B Tech or an M Tech, but is unemployed or underemployed. Many say they will vote for the TRS. Most students feel TRS and the Telangana Joint Action Committee spearheaded the statehood movement and that is why TRS deserves to form the first government. “If KCR had not fasted so many days, the process to create Telangana state would not have started,’’ said K Mahesh Reddy in Medak, from where K Chandrasekhar Rao is contesting.
In Nalgonda, a communist bastion with a good Congress presence, TRS is banking on the Telangana sentiment to work in its favour. D Sankaramma, mother of D Srikant Chary whose suicide in December 2009 reignited the Telangana agitation, is in the fray from Huzurnagar assembly seat. She faces the Congress’s Telangana campaign committee chairman N Uttam Kumar Reddy.