Telangana Chief Minister and Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) Supremo K.Chandrashekar Rao may shift from his current constituency, Gajwel, and opt to contest from the Kamareddy Assembly constituency, according to political sources.
Chandrashekar Rao has been an MLA of Gajwel since the formation of Telangana in 2014, giving it the status of a CM or VIP constituency.
It is unusual but not unprecedented for a sitting Chief Minister to not contest from the existing CM constituency, especially in Telugu states, wherein leaders like N.Chandrababu Naidu (Kuppam in Chittoor district), late Dr Y.S.Rajashekhara Reddy (Pulivendula in Kadapa district) or Y.S.Jagan Mohan Reddy, who retained his father’s seat.
In contradistinction, late N.T.Rama Rao contested and won elections from several different Assembly constituencies, among them Hindupur (three times), Gudivada, Tirupati, Nalgonda, and Tekkali.He also contested once from Kalwakurthy but lost.
Chandrashekar Rao, during his meteoric political career, has features of both categories of leaders in his approach to deciding upon and grooming a constituency.
Chandrashekar Rao won from Siddipet four times, as a Telugu Desam candidate, and once as a TRS leader, besides having also contested and won elections to the Lok Sabha from both Karimnagar and Mahbubnagar.He faced his only defeat at the start of his electoral career in 1983.
In Gajwel, Chandrashekar Rao had polled 125,444 votes (60.45 per cent) of the total votes polled in the last election in 2018, contesting as incumbent Chief Minister, against Congress candidate Pratap Reddy Vanteru, who got 67,154 votes.Earlier, in 2014, Rao polled 86,694 and won against the same person, Pratap Reddy Vanteru, who was then the TD candidate, and received 67,303 votes.
Incidentally, Gajwel was won by the Congress for the two terms prior, being represented by Dr J.Geeta Reddy (2004) and Tumkunta Narsa Reddy (2009).
KCR may have decided upon a strategy to change from a VIP constituency to a new one for a posse of reasons.
Political observers feel the reason could be the rapidly changing political mood in the state, which has led to this decision.The BRS conducted several surveys, including in Siddipet and Dubbak, before deciding upon the Kamareddy constituency.
The idea of shifting to Siddipet was discussed at the highest levels of the party for a while but was abandoned to prevent any disturbance to senior leader and minister T.Harish Rao.Dubbak was considered but deemed a “bit risky”, whereas Kamareddy was found to be perfect.
The seat is currently represented by Gampa Govardhan of the ruling pink party, who won it by a slim margin, of 4,557 votes.
The TRS’ winning candidate polled 68,167 votes (42 per cent) in the last elections, against Congress, represented by former minister Mohd.Ali Shabbir, who got 63,610 votes (39 per cent).
Interestingly, while the BJP polled 15,439 votes, a little-known party, Samajwadi Forward Bloc, got 10,537 votes here.
The BRS believes that Chandrashekar Rao’s shift to Kamareddy would help the party in the entire northern Telangana zone, across the erstwhile districts of Adilabad, Medak, Karimnagar and Nizamabad.
The party is facing a stiff challenge ahead, as per internal surveys of both parties, in the southern districts, where the Congress resurgence is strongest, across erstwhile districts of Khammam, Nalgonda, Mahbubnagar and large parts of Warangal.
A BRS leader explained: “If CM KCR shifts to Kamareddy, its impact would be similar to Modi shifting to Varanasi.We would have a big positive impact in four nearby districts.”
As per BRS sources, minister and party working president K.T.Rama Rao has been entrusted with the responsibility of reviewing the political situation in the constituency and preparing it for the Chief Minister, including getting leaders from various segments and parties at all levels to join the ruling party.
In its reactions, a former aide of Rao, and now BJP state election committee management chief, and Huzurabad MLA Etala Rajendar, said: “It is not surprising that KCR may be in search of a safe constituency.He may have won all elections since 1985, but this time, he is not only afraid he will lose, but also knows that BRS will lose too.”
Rajendar, who won a grudge bypoll in Huzurabad after he was shown the door by the BRS, also said that Chandrashekr Rao could be worried to face the challenge of taking him on in Gajwel.
“I am committed to my challenge of contesting from Gajwel and defeating KCR.However, where I contest from will only be decided by the party.I will abide by the party decision,” he said.