Huzurabad: Every corner of the constituency is witnessing a political carnival. Every hotel and lodge is filled with activists.

Voters in Huzurabad and Jammikunta town have decided whom to vote, but they are hesitant to say it openly.

The ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) is confident about winning the by-poll. TRS candidate V Lakshmikantha Rao won the seat for the first time in 2004 with a margin of 44,671 votes.

V Lakshmikantha Rao is now the Rajya Sabha MP of TRS. Bharatiya Janata Party is banking on former minister Eatala Rajender to romp home. BJP already holds the parliamentary constituency.

"I am voting for Eatala, not for BJP," said M Srinivas, a resident of Jammikunta in the Huzurabad assembly constituency. "We have voted for Eatala since 2009, and we will continue to do so."

Eatala Rajender: The Consequential Candidate

For the voters of Huzurabad, Eatala Rajender has fulfilled most of the promises. "Except for 2BHK housing for the poor in the area, he has done most of the works," said Srinivas. "He consulted us before joining the BJP. Many of the voters were against him joining BJP, but he made his own decision."

For BJP, it gives an opportunity to extend its position in the state beyond Dubbak and GHMC. BJP is also looking for a morale booster post debacle in Nagarjuna Sagar and recent MLC elections.

Eatala fits the bill for the BJP. He is a leader who participated in Telangana agitation. He is also a popular BC leader (the state has around 54 percent BC population). Most important he is the leader who can shift his own ideology from extreme left to right.

"Why is TRS afraid of him? They have a majority in the assembly. If Eatala wins, he will be just the third BJP MLA in the assembly. The real reason behind TRS' fear is that if Eatala wins, around 15-20 MLAs from TRS will cross sides to BJP. By 2023, TRS will have a formidable opposition to face. TRS doesn't want this to happen. That's why, they have put all their money, power, and everything at stake to win this poll," said a BJP activist who came from Secunderabad to campaign for the party.


The Dilemma of TRS

For the ryots (farmers) in the rural area, Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao is the savior. They are not seeing the election as Eatala Rajender vs Gellu Srinivas Yadav but between Eatala Rajender and KCR.

"We are voting for KCR. As a chief minister, he has launched many schemes for us. Because of Rythu Bandhu, many of us have sustained ourselves in hard times," said a farmer at Katrepalle village in the constituency.

TRS candidates Gellu Srinivas Yadav has all the features of the right candidate: A BC leader, local, youngster, and party loyal. However, he is being seen as an outsider.

"Yes he is a local candidate, but he has done all his politics as a student leader in Hyderabad. He is still a student at Osmania University. We are not sure if he knows our issues," said Sekhar, a youngster in Huzurabad.

TRS in Huzurabad is dependent on KCR. TRS leaders are trying to highlight the schemes that the CM launched for the people. TRS campaign is largely dependent on Dalit Bandhu Scheme, Rythu Bandhu, Asara Pension, etc.

For TRS, the win will give an opportunity to quell the disagreement among the party leaders. This will also add to the invincibility quotient of KCR.

The strategy is all based on caste distribution

Caste is at the heart of the campaign in the constituency. Huzurabad has over 50,000 scheduled caste voters whose support is vital for TRS victory. To woo them, TRS is cashing in on Dalit Bandhu Scheme.

For BCs, which constitute the majority of the population in Hazurabad, TRS has promised a similar scheme. For the Goudas community, which has 20000 votes, the TRS government has promised a quota in allotment of liquor shops, bars, restaurants, etc. TRS government has made Dr. Vakulabharanam Krishna Mohan Rao, a local from Huzurabad, the chairman of the BC commission in the state.

BJP on the other side is relying on word of mouth campaign. BJP cadres are trying to convince the BC community that the government will not launch Dalit Bandhu-like scheme for them.

"We are telling people that the Dalit Bandhu scheme was launched to defeat Eatala Rajender. TRS government is not going to launch Dalit Bandhu-like scheme for BC," said a BJP worker canvassing in the constituency.


Congress factor

Congress has joined the fray very late. Venkat Narsing Rao Balmoor is being considered an outsider and doesn't stand a chance. Last time, Congress candidate Kaushik Reddy, came second. He has now joined TRS. "Had Kaushik Reddy contested on Congress ticket, it would have been a triangular contest. Now it's between TRS and BJP," said a local.

Congress has not been able to impress young voters. They have nothing to offer for the voters. Congress strategy is just to counter TRS and BJP.

The Independent Factor

Around 25 independent candidates are in the fray. Independent candidates are going to hurt both BJP and TRS if there is a close contest.

In the Dubbak election, the winning margin was just above one thousand votes and many of the independent candidates had secured more than two thousand votes. It hurt the ruling TRS big time. Similarly, both BJP and TRS are making sure that these independent candidates should not hurt their winning chances.

Sumit Kumar Jha

Sumit Kumar Jha is currently a multimedia journalist with NewsMeter. An alumnus of the University of Hyderabad and Amity University, he has interned with The New Indian Express and CGNet Swara. He is specialised in Video Production. He was also a contributor at PARI network. Hailing from rural Bihar has spent his childhood shifting from places and people. Growing up he felt the need to document the lives and dreams of rural India. A lover of visual storytelling goes around the cities to search for Stories. He primarily reports on civic, consumer, health, human interest and data stories. You can follow Sumit on Twitter @sumitjha__

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