GHMC Polls: Uppal couple sells land to help poor during lockdown, wins A.S Rao Nagar seat

By Newsmeter Network  Published on  10 Dec 2020 5:00 AM GMT
GHMC Polls: Uppal couple sells land to help poor during lockdown, wins A.S Rao Nagar seat

Hyderabad: The recently concluded elections to the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) were one of the most fiercely contested polls in recent times. The results were equally dramatic, akin to a political potboiler, grabbing eyeballs not just in Hyderabad but across the nation. While it is a no brainer that the TRS, BJP, and the AIMIM managed to hog all the headlines, the once-mighty Congress also managed to win two of the 150 seats. While it might be deemed as a poor outing for the party, it can be proud of the way it bagged one of the seats i.e. Ward 2 of Dr. AS Rao Nagar in the north zone of the corporation.

The victory was not ordinary. Just look at the numbers. The Congress candidate Shirisha Reddy Singireddy won with a majority of 9,043 votes. What's noteworthy is that her rivals were the BJP and the TRS. The runner up was from the saffron party who bagged 4,647 votes.

So why did people vote in such huge numbers and that too to a debutant who contested from an 'unpopular with the crowd' party? The answer is Covid-19. People voted for Shirisha based on the work she and her husband took up in the area during the pandemic.

While Shirisha is a housewife, her husband Somasekhar Reddy has been in politics since 1994. He started out as a student leader and has been with the Congress ever since, working specifically in the northern half of Secunderabad. But it was when the deadly Covid-19 struck; people started taking note of him.

"Immediately after the pandemic struck, 70-80 people in my team including volunteer doctors customized four jeeps to sanitize four divisions in AS Rao Nagar. 4 bikes were also customized and were used for mosquito fogging every day. We went and distributed medicines to people and that's how the public started appreciating our work. For three months, we held annadanam for 1,500-2,000 people each day. We also had distributed groceries to 30-35 families which included 5 kg rice and other essentials like tea powder and vegetables," says Somasekhar.

What really became a talking point was how Somasekhar and Shirisha managed to pool money to carry out their social activities.

"We owned a 770 square yards piece of land near Charlapally. It was used for Ganesh Chaturthi functions. Even though the market rate of the land was around Rs 40,000-50,000 per sq yard, we sold it for Rs 11,500 per yard and pooled Rs 1 crore," explains Somasekhar.

"Under the umbrella of Yuvasena Foundation, we used all the money for Covid-19 relief work. Every day we used to work till 11 in the night. Even now, when you visit all basti dawakhanas you can see all our equipment like sanitizer dispensers, gloves, and masks. We spoke to a chemical factory directly and started arranging for sanitizers," he adds.

This is the moment Somasekhar says was the turning point for him and his wife.

"There were a lot of histrionics which was shown on TV like showering flowers and clapping for doctors. But on the ground, no one from the GHMC or the state government took care of the frontline workers or affected families. Forget them, even the GHMC staff in our area was not taken care of. So we started making separate kits for everyone. Each kit used to cost us Rs 2,500 which included 2 strips of FabiFlu along with other medicines. This was distributed to all the GHMC staff," Somasekhar explains.

While it was Somasekhar who wanted to contest the GHMC polls, the guidelines meant he had to sit out of it. "Actually, I wanted to contest. But in my area of residence, the candidate was reserved for BCs. I could have contested from Divison-2 but it was reserved for women. That's why Shirisha contested in my place," he adds.

Somasekhar notes that his wife's political knowledge is close to zero and she's purely a housewife. "But she involved herself in all social activities. We never had to make fake promises to the public to win this election. They saw the work we did and people elected us unanimously. On the other hand, TRS handed out Rs 2,000- Rs 5,000 to each family. But people voted for us and Shirisha got around 50 pc vote share," he says

Talking about the work they want to focus on, Somasekhar says, "In AS Rao Nagar, we have around 150 colonies. But there is no proper cemetery here except in Kushaiguda which looks more like a dumping yard. We had given a lot of representations to the TRS government before but to no avail. As a first thank you gesture towards people who voted for us, I want to construct this cemetery either paying from my own pocket or through CSR activities. This will be completed even before my wife takes oath as a corporator which is likely to happen most likely in February."

"We will always be with the public 24x7. Even before the election, we used to work a lot. Everyone knows what we have been doing. We want to grow up the ladder. This is the beginning. We want to work for the entire constituency and will fulfill all the promises," he says.

He says politics is new for his wife but it is how GHMC works. "I will educate her in the next two months. People need to remember. There is a misconception that during GHMC elections if they vote for a candidate who belongs to the party in power, it will help them. But that's not true. The GHMC budget is prepared and is equally distributed to all 150 wards irrespective of party. So we can use the budget accordingly," he concludes.

Next Story
Share it