Telangana elections: Congress woos Reddys, BRS banks on booth management
The BRS announced its list of candidates before the poll schedule was announced by the Election Commission
Visheshwar Rao, a civil society member who went to campaign for poet Gaddar’s daughter G Vennela in Secunderabad Cantonment seat, sounded worried. “I went to a semi-slum area and people said 12 workers of the ruling BRS (Bharat Rashtra Samithi) have been camping there for the past few days,” said Rao.
G Vennela is contesting from the Congress.
This intense canvassing reflects the meticulous election planning of the BRS and its strategists. Sitting at the annex of Pragati Bhavan, chief minister K Chandrashekar Rao’s official residence, a top BRS functionary, who didn’t want to be named, said: “Our booth-level poll management had started in September. In close to 100 seats, we have nominated candidates who had been MLAs at least once in the last 10 years. So, they have their teams ready at the booth level.”
While each BRS candidate had their teams ready, the BRS announced its list of candidates before the poll schedule was announced by the Election Commission. “The early announcement of candidates helped us do an extensive campaign,” said the functionary. “All candidates completed the first round of campaign in their seats in September. They did another two rounds of canvassing in October and early November. Now, before the election, our candidates are meeting the voters for the fourth time.”
Congress functionaries such as Md Afzal rejected this claim and alleged that ruling party leaders were spending money to lure voters through booth management.
BRS functionaries also claimed that the Congress has paradropped 40 candidates, who have never served their party in the past. “Some candidates have not even been to Gandhi Bhawan (the Congress headquarters in Telangana). So, our fight against them is essentially confined in the remaining 69 seats. They are also very weak in booth management,” said another functionary at the war room of Pragati Bhavan, declining to be named.
“But the Congress has one major advantage, the appointment of Revanth Reddy as the party chief in the state,” pointed out BR Ambedkar University’s director Ghanta Chakrapani. “He is well-connected to the young people, and the Reddys, economically and socially powerful, want to have someone from their community in power.”
The Reddys are usually the richest guys in a district, said Sudhakar Gaud, another commentator. “They are the prime landowners and have money. They have great influence on other villagers and farm workers, although the Reddy community is less than 5% of the state’s population,” said Gaud.
The BRS functionaries, however, pointed out that under Rythu Bandhu, the input subsidy scheme for the farmers, the Reddy community has benefited the most. “The marginal farmers are mostly Reddys. OBCs (other backward classes) are small farmers. That’s why a majority of the Reddys have benefited from the scheme, which gives ₹10,000 in two instalments to farmers for every acre of land they own,” a functionary said.
While the Congress also tried to highlight KCR’s prolonged absence from public eye in its campaign, the BRS officials argued that the chief minister has created a decentralised form of government and MLAs and district magistrates hold regular public hearings.
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