Medak bypoll, Difficult for TRS to lose
Stage set for a high profile campaign
4 TRS leaders elected to Assembly from Medak Lok Sabha constituency.
Congress a divided house
Desertions from the BJP
Hyderabad, August 28: The die is cast for a high profile campaign in the by-election for Medak Lok Sabha seat. All the three candidates representing the major parties are good fighters. While the TRS would solidly work for its candidate K Prabhakara Reddy, the Congress nominee Sunitha Laxma Reddy, who lost from Narsampet in recent elections, is known to be a very good leader who keeps in touch with the people of her constituency on a regular basis. The BJP and TDP combine has thrown a surprise at the Congress and the people of Medak district by fielding T Jayaprakasha Reddy, who was with the Congress party till Wednesday morning. The main qualification of Jayaprakash Reddy, popularly called Jagga Reddy, is that he is a sworn enemy of K Chandrasekhara Rao (KCR), TRS chief. who vacated the seat on becoming chief minister retaining Gajwel Assembly seat. Jagga Reddy has been one of KCR’s bitterest critics. He is a popular leader with a mass base in some parts of Medak district. His bastion is Sangareddy, the district headquarters. He is also close film industry being a producer and financer himself. It was Jagga Reddy who brought heroine of yester years Vijaya Shanti to Medak. It would be a battle royale since the candidates have the wherewithal to fight intensely.
The Congress and the BJP would be content with giving a good fight. The TDP had decided to support the BJP candidate extending the electoral understanding to the bye-elections. The two parties are sharing power in Andhra Pradesh. The Congress would have given a reasonable fight since it has stalwarts among its leaders in Medak district. Former Dy CM Damodara Rajanarsimha, Former Minister Dr Gita Reddy hail from this district. But with the desertion of Jagga Reddy and Fariduddin, the Congress party’s strength has got depleted. Gita Reddy won with a narrow majority of 800 votes from Zaheerabad constituency in the last elections due to non-cooperation by Fariduddin. He was asked to jump into the TRS by KCR himself. Moreover, the leaders of the Congress party who are still licking their wounds are not in a position to offer a united fight under the leadership of Ponnala Laxmaiah, PCC president, whose legitimacy is being questioned by many seniors in the party. BJP has lost its star politician with Chagandla Narendranath bidding a goodbye to the party as a protest against disregarding his legitimate claim to be fielded again and selecting an outsider like Jagga Reddy. Narendranath has a huge following in the constituency. He performed thousands of marriages of poor couples and organized many a welfare scheme like arranging free food centres and supply of mineral water for the poor. The last minute decision to give ticket to a defector did not add glory to the saffron party.
Medak has a history of sending tall leaders to Parliament. Indira Gandhi was elected from this constituency in a by-election after she lost in general elections in 1977 from Rae Bareli in the wake of the Emergency backlash. P Siva Shankar who vacated the seat for Indira Gandhi later became Union Law Minister representing the same constituency. Baga Reddy, a senior leader from Medak who was ZP chairman and a minister, Mallikharjun, leader of 1969 Telangana movement and KCR also represented Medak constituency in Lok Sabha.
The unexpected selection of Jagga Reddy, KCR’s bête noire, was a game plan chalked out by two young Reddy leaders in Telangana, Kishan Reddy, president of Telangana BJP, and Revant Reddy, a TDP leader. Film hero and the founder of Jana Sena party is understood to have played a role in convincing the BJP high command to give the ticket to Jagga Reddy who is the president of the District Congress Committee. V Hanumantha Rao, a senior Congress leader and a Member of Rajya Sabha, said Jagga Reddy’s departure is a good riddance for the Congress. Kishan Reddy commented that they have fielded a candidate who can give sleepless nights to KCR. That could be an exaggeration in the context of by-elections for Medak Lok Sabha seat. This parliamentary constituency includes four Assembly segments represented by four powerful TRS leaders. One is CM himself. The other MLA is T Harish Rao, Irrigation Minister, who is very popular in his Siddipet constituency and beyond. He is an election strategist and a seasoned campaigner. He was made the overall commander for the bye-poll while there would be one minister in charge of each Assembly segment. Harish Rao has declared that the Congress and the BJP have to fight only for second and third positions. The third MLA is Deputy Speaker Mrs Padma Devender Reddy while the fourth is Solipeta Ramalinga Reddy representing Dubbaka Assembly constituency. Added to this, the TRS candidate is rich enough to take care of the election expenditure. The Jagga Reddy factor had an electrifying effect on two senior leaders in the district. The decision of Fariduddin, former Congress Minister, to join TRS has given extra mileage to the party while further weakening the Congress. Another important leader in Medak, Narendranath, who was the candidate in the general elections three months ago, also left his party in a huff and joined the TRS providing a spring in its feet. It would be very difficult, therefore, for the TRS candidate to lose and the BJP or the Congress to win.