Ground report: It is Komatireddy vs TRS, not BJP vs TRS; Huzurabad redux in Munugode

By Coreena Suares  Published on  29 Oct 2022 5:00 PM GMT
Ground report: It is Komatireddy vs TRS, not BJP vs TRS; Huzurabad redux in Munugode

Munugode is poised to witness a battle between Komatireddy RajaGopal Reddy and TRS; and not BJP versus TRS – akin to Eatala Rajender's personality versus TRS in Huzurabad by-election exactly a year ago.

Come November 3, it may be a straight fight of Reddy Vs Reddy. While the grand old Congress party and new entrant BSP may settle for third and fourth positions.

It is needless to say that Munugode by-poll is no different from any election and is infested by `mandu', `mukka', and `katta' (liquor, meat, and money). And, acrimonious exchanges between the contenders is, of course, a commonplace.

Munugode Assembly constituency consists of seven mandals, five of which fall in Nalgonda district and two in Yadadri-Bhuvanagiri. The constituency is home to 2,90,229 people, predominantly from backward castes (BCs), including Padmashali, Goud, Yadhav, Mudiraj, and Chakali. Farming and weaving are by far leading professions.

Choutuppal, Narayanapur, Munugode, Chandur, Marriguda, Nampalle, and the newly-carved Gattuppal mandals constitute two lakh voters. It is pertinent to note that 50-60 percent of the voters are young adults, falling in the age bracket of 18-19 years and 20-30 years respectively.

As the high-octane poll campaign ends on 31st October at 6 PM, NewsMeter toured certain mandals falling in Nalgonda and analyzed the 'mood' of the voters.

It is not the BJP but KomatiReddy RajaGopal Reddy's clout in Munugode

Chandur Mandal, located between Munugode and Nampalle was buzzing with election rallies on Thursday. On one end of the main crossroads was an all-women-led TRS rally, crossing BJP convoy, while on the same street the BSP cadre were engaged on a door-to-door campaign.

"Chandur Mandal consists of 15 villages with about 30,000 voters. Gouds and Yadhavs comprise the major chunk of the vote bank here. Out of the total, 7-8% are silent voters. They never disclose which way they are going to vote. The rest are inclined towards RajaGopal Reddy, thanks to his service. For example, a poor ST boy qualified himself for a pilot training, but could not afford it. However, RajaGopal funded his education, and the boy is now a pilot. When the head of the house died in a crash, he paid Rs 5 Lakh to the family. He has conducted marriages of poor girls and given them Rs 50,000 each and paid the school fee of many students. During Covid, he spent crores of rupees and helped families with rations," said Kandi Malla Reddy, a voter while sipping tea along with his friends.

With 850 voters in Thumalapalle village, the share of BJP reflects an increase from 60-70 to 300, because of RajaGopal's image, he added. Marrigudda Mandal and Chandur are indicating a stiff fight between the BJP and the TRS.

Eighteen kilo metres away from Narketpally police station, stand multiple makeshift tents and a temporarily-constructed house – all in a sprawling area of two acres. From Toyota Fortuners, and Range Rovers to Mercedes Benz, many high-end cars parked and open-top vehicles meant to ferry a former parliamentarian, MLC, and MLA KomatiReddy Raja Gopal Reddy for his election campaign.

"One of the major drawbacks of RajaGopal is that he doesn't have a house in Munugode constituency, where he served in various capacities. If he wins, he plans to stay at least 3 days a week in the constituency," said Komatireddy Mohan Reddy, elder brother of the contestant.

Kosukuntala Prabhakar Reddy's harps on TRS strength.

While RajaGopal Reddy is fighting the election based on his personality clout, TRS contestant Kusukuntala Prabhakar Reddy is harping on Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao's gigantic political image and the welfare schemes of the TRS Government.

Sitting next to a huge cutout is fruit vendor Erragi Yadaiah, a TRS supporter. "Why should I vote for the BJP, when the TRS is in power in the state? Will RajaGopal Reddy be able to develop the constituency, fighting against KCR's ruling party? I am happy with the welfare schemes. The government is pro-farmer and pro-Dalits. Earlier I voted for the Congress, we even supported them in Chandur Municipal elections, but none of these elected representatives are accessible. What is the guarantee that RajaGopal will remain in the BJP?" he said.

Voters also observed that votes cast for former BJP candidate Manohar Reddy, who contested and lost 3 consecutive terms, were in vain. "Since the TRS is in power, every vote will result in welfare. Predominantly, Chief Minister KCR's flagship schemes like Rythu Bandhu, Dalit Bandhu, senior citizen pensions, Kalyan Lakshmi, and KCR Kits are what Prabhakar Reddy is banking upon since the contestant has no charisma of his own.

Kusukuntla Prabhakar Reddy of Telangana Rashtra Samithi won the seat for the first time in the 2014 Assembly election.

Andhra Kodallu (daughter-in-law)

It is pertinent to note that the Munugude constituency had been a Congress bastion since 1967 with a few years of CPI representation. From 1967 to 1985, Palvai Govardhan Reddy won consecutive elections. Ujini Narayan Rao of the CPI won the election for the next 3 straight terms before the constituency came back to Govardhan Reddy.

The current Congress candidate Palvai Sravanthi is the daughter of the late Govardhan Reddy. "There are few sympathy votes that Sravanthi may poll because of her father, but she is seen as 'Andhra Kodalu' as her spouse belongs to Nellore district of Andhra Pradesh. Young Congress supporters find no use in supporting Sravanthi as she won't win. Since RajaGopal Reddy earlier won as MP, MLC, and MLA on Congress ticket, he continues to have a large percentage of Congress supporters despite moving to the BJP," said an election observer (an official).

The officer further added, "Sravanthi was never seen in the constituency, nor is she accessible to the public. Even in the election campaign, the Congress has fallen flat. Since she won't win, the Congress vote may go adrift to the TRS benefitting the latter."

A few voters are of the understanding that if the TRS succeeds in retaining its vote bank which includes the support of the CPI and CPM and the Congress gets a high majority of votes, the election results will automatically push the BJP to the third position. However, this seems to be remote possibility, for the Congress campaign hasn't picked up the way it should have.

Elephant in the room

Munugode has a new political entrant- the Bahujan Samajwadi Party, led by former IPS officer R S Praveen Kumar. The cash-strapped BSP with a cadre consisting of 2,000 activists fielded young and well-qualified Andoju Shankara Chary in the fray. And above all, he is the only BC candidate among the contestants.

Fight election without 'Mandu, Mukka, and Katta' is BSP's election slogan. With former top cop RS Praveen Kumar being their only star campaigner, the new entrant has covered 208 villages so far.

Speaking to NewsMeter, G Nagender, BSP'S Miryalguda in charge said, "Praveen Sir, BC candidates and the failure of state and central government are our election pitches. Many times, we have seen CM KCR ridiculing backward caste people. He even poked fun at their profession and called them names. The BC voters won't forget that. Can the BJP and the TRS fight without bribing voters? Why did the BJP, the TRS, and the Congress field upper caste candidates when a majority of Munugode voters consist of BCs."

"Many qualified youths are unemployed. Where is the government job per house promise of KCR? There is no government hospital in Munugode. Patients died on the way to the Nalgonda hospital. Why does the TRS need the support of the CPI and the CPM? It is a fact that lower cadre, except for the leaders, of the CPI and the CPM do not want to support the TRS," he added.

Mission Bhageeratha: Fluorosis cases dip in Nalgonda

For the last several decades, Nalgonda is battling deadly fluorosis. Official data reveal that nearly 59 Mandals in the Nalgonda are affected by fluorosis. A major portion of the Munugode constituency has also been hit by the disease for a long.

However, for the last five years, there has been a considerable dip in fluorosis cases. Nalgonda citizens credit Mission Bhageeratha for this feat.All the houses in Nalgonda reportedly have taps that pump water from Mission Bhageeratha. The tap runs for an hour daily and the limit of water per household is 100 liters.

"Fluoride-free water from Mission Bhageeratha has helped everyone including me. This water is sufficient for drinking and cooking purposes. However, we still use groundwater for all cultivation and agricultural purposes. We need to avoid it for making Nalgonda a fluorosis-free district," he added.

Fluorosis victims stated that they hope that the TRS will win so that the Shivannagudem Reservoir (also known as Dindi Lift Irrigation) project is commissioned. This project will put an end to groundwater use. Plus it will channel water from other sources. "The reservoir is the only hope. It will completely eradicate fluorosis," Swamy said.

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