For the past week, there was speculation that many sitting MPs of the Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) would not be fielded again by K Chandrasekhar Rao. With KCR aiming at a 16/17 tally in Telangana (with the Hyderabad seat left for ally Asaduddin Owaisi), the buzz in the TRS was that the party supremo was going through every candidature with a fine toothcomb. A good show is imperative for KCR to play a role at the national level.
Predictably four MPs found themselves out in the cold, the news of rejection dampening the Holi spirit on Thursday. Apart from AP Jitender Reddy (Mahbubnagar) and P Srinivasa Reddy (Khammam), G Vivek was hoping to get the ticket from Peddapalli. When he was in the Congress in 2014, he had lost to Balka Suman of the TRS. But with Suman becoming an MLA in the December election, Vivek expected the ride to Peddapalli to be smooth. But despite having represented Peddapalli between 2009 and 2014, his proximity to KT Rama Rao and his position as Advisor to the Telangana government with cabinet rank, Vivek’s name did not pass muster.
Why were Vivek and the Reddy duo left out in the cold?
The reasons for all three are similar and reportedly go back to their conduct during the assembly elections in Telangana in 2018. According to sources, Vivek was accused by three TRS leaders of trying to sabotage their winning chances. Particularly aggrieved was Koppula Eshwar, now minister for SC and BC welfare in the KCR cabinet, who scraped through in Dharmapuri constituency by just 441 votes. Another MLA Durgam Chinnaiah from Bellampalli also did not speak in Vivek’s favour. Vivek’s brother G Vinod had left the TRS to contest against Chinnaiah on a BSP ticket, finishing second.
KCR who understood Vivek’s utility with his contacts at the Delhi level and his clout as a Telugu media baron was reluctant to deny him the ticket but had to give in. The problem was that the TRS was not prepared with a back-up plan from within its ranks. Hurriedly, the party inducted Venkatesh Netha Borlukunta of the Congress who had lost to Balka Suman of the TRS from the Chennur assembly constituency in December. Within hours of donning the TRS pink scarf, Venkatesh was announced as the party candidate from Peddapalli.
There was similar opposition to Jitender Reddy. Even though the TRS did exceedingly well in Mahbubnagar district, it was suspected that the Leader of the TRS Parliamentary party was planning to jump ship. But with the BJP and the Congress already declaring their candidates, Jitender Reddy will have no fall back options to contest from Mahbubnagar.
The only district where the TRS fared poorly in the December elections was Khammam and Srinivasa Reddy was suspected of having played a part. Former minister Tummala Nageshwara Rao’s supporters blamed him for his defeat. This time in order to boost the TRS chances in Khammam, KCR inducted moneybag industrialist and former Telugu Desam MP Nama Nageswara Rao. Like Venkatesh, Rao also formally joined the TRS on Thursday morning.
MP from Nalgonda, Sukhender Reddy is being sent to the Legislative Council.
Like many other regional parties, the TRS list accommodates kith and kin of senior leaders. The ticket from Secunderabad has gone to Sai Kiran Yadav, the son of Animal Husbandry minister Talasani Srinivas Yadav. The Mahbubabad ticket has been allotted to M Kavitha, the daughter of Dornakal MLA Redya Naik. That meant sitting MP Azmeera Seetharam Naik was dropped. Rajasekhar Reddy, the candidate from Malkajgiri is the son-in-law of Women and child welfare minister Malla Reddy.
Surprisingly, the TRS has fielded a little-known candidate P Srikanth from Hyderabad even though KCR’s public support is to Owaisi. It will be a rather strange friendly fight where even Srikanth’s party chief will not ask the people to vote for him.