Cong veteran takes on 2 debutants in T’gana’s Nagarjuna Sagar

Hyderabad, April 11 (IANS) Nagarjuna Sagar Assembly constituency is all set to witness a triangular fight among ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) and opposition Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the April 17 bypoll.

Seven time legislator and former Minister K. Jana Reddy of the Congress will be taking on two debutants — Nomula Bhagat of TRS and P. Ravi Kumar Naik of the BJP.

Stakes are high for the Congress as it looks to wrest the seat from the TRS to revive its fortunes in its former stronghold ahead of 2023 Assembly polls.

The TRS is making all out efforts to retain the seat and banking on sympathy factor by fielding Nomula Bhagat, son of Nomula Narasimhaiah whose death caused the vacancy.

Bhagat, 36, is a practising High Court advocate and is highly educated. An engineering graduate (B.Tech), he also pursued business management (MBA) and law (LLB and LLM). Though he was actively involved in his father’s campaign 2014 and 2018 elections, Bhagat is a political novice before Jana Reddy

TRS president and Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao chose Bhagat as the party candidate to cash in on the perceived sympathy factor. This was despite TRS losing Dubbak Assembly to BJP in November last year though the ruling party fielded S. Sujatha, widow of S. Ramalinga Reddy, whose death had necessitated the bypoll.

Political observers say caste factor is likely to play a key role in the by-election. TRS fielded Bhagat, a member of Yadav community, who constitute 40 per cent of over two lakh voters in the constituency.

Jana Reddy comes from the Reddy community that has been a dominant force in the combined Nalgonda district.

The party will be banking heavily on the charisma of Jana Reddy, who won the seat in 2009 and 2014.

He was earlier elected five times from Chalakurthy constituency, which became Nagarjuna Sagar in the delimitation exercise in 2009.

The BJP has fielded a tribal as the constituency 40,000 Lambadi voters. Ravi Kumar Naik, a physician, had joined the saffron party only last month. He had resigned his government job as a medical officer of a primary health centre a year ago to start private practice.

After the shock defeat to the BJP in Dubbak, TRS is not taking any chances in Nagarjuna Sagar. The chief minister, who had not campaigned for TRS in Dubbak, addressed a public meeting in Sagar as early as February 10 when he announced 14 lift-irrigation schemes on Nagarjuna Sagar left bank canal with a budget of Rs 3,000 crore. He will be addressing another meeting in the constituency on April 14.

TRS working president and Chandrasekhar Rao’s son K.T. Rama Rao is also likely to conduct road shows to bolster the party’s chances.

Unlike in Dubbak where the BJP was locked in a direct clash with TRS, Sagar will be witnessing a triangular contest. The Congress appears to be the main rival of TRS here though the saffron party is determined to pull a surprise.

In 2018, Nomula Narasimhaiah had won Nagarjuna Sagar seat by defeating Jana Reddy of the Congress by about 8,000 votes. Nomula polled 83,655 votes while Jana Reddy garnered 75,884 votes.

BJP’s K. Niveditha Reddy had polled only 2,675 votes. Hoping that the party will name her as the candidate, Niveditha filed the nomination but the party ignored her. Her nomination was also rejected.

While BJP’s central leader in-charge of party affairs in the state Tarun Chug and state leaders are running an intense campaign, the saffron party has not roped in any central leader. This is in contrast to the elections to Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) in December when several Central leaders, including Union Home Minister Amit Shah and party’s national president J. P. Nadda had campaigned for the party.

The veteran Congress leader Jana Reddu is banking on his clean image and also the sympathy factor that he lost in the 2018 elections. TRS, on the other hand, is targeting Jana Reddy for failing to do any development works in the constituency despite representing it for a very long time.

Jana Reddy had also challenged the TRS that he would sit at home without campaigning and were they willing to do the same if they believed in the development done by them. “Let the voters decide,” the Congress leader said.

TRS is confident that various welfare schemes being implemented by the state government will ensure its victory. The party has identified nearly 1.36 lakh voters as beneficiaries of government schemes in the constituency. The ruling party leaders also believe that people will prefer its candidate so that the development of the constituency is not affected.

TRS also dealt a jolt to BJP before the polls by attracting the latter’s ticket aspirant Kadari Anjaiah Yadav, into its fold. Anjaiah Yadav had contested the 2014 elections as the candidate of Telugu Desam Party (TDP) and secured over 27,000 votes. The ruling party expects that this will further cement its position by ensuring support of the entire Yadav community.

It’s a do or die situation for the Congress. After a series of setbacks since the 2018 Assembly elections, Congress is looking for a turnaround. In Sagar, the party will be banking heavily on Jana Reddy

After the 2018 polls, Congress lost 12 out of its 19 MLAs to TRS. The party also lost Huzurabad Assembly seat to TRS in 2019 in the by-election caused by the resignation of party’s state unit chief Uttam Kumar Reddy following his election to the Lok Sabha.

Congress faced humiliating defeat in Dubbak and GHMC polls. With BJP emerging as an alternative to TRS following the victory in Dubbak and impressive performance in GHMC elections, Congress was facing a tough challenge to its survival.

The results of last month’s election to two seats of State Legislative Council have also come as a shot in the arm for TRS. The ruling party wrested one graduates’ constituency from BJP and retained the other one.

TRS has roped in several ministers and legislators to ensure victory for its candidate. Ministers like G. Jagadish Reddy, Talasani Srinivas Yadav, Mahmood Ali and half-a-dozen MLAs are camping in the constituency.

There are 41 candidates in the fray including 14 candidates from national, regional and smaller parties while there are 27 independents.

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