HYDERABAD: Based purely on the festive atmosphere created by the BJP with loads of music, dance and fireworks, as Bandi Sanjay, the party’s State unit president, entered Quthbullapur constituency as part of his Praja Sangrama Yatra, the saffron party appears well set for a thumping victory if elections were to be held in the near future.
It was a festival of sorts for the BJP cadre who were stationed at every street corner, waiting to welcome Sanjay with garlands and women performing ‘harathi’. A sizable crowd had come to hear him speak.
However, for the people of the constituency, the atmosphere is nothing new.
Kamatam Ramulamma (55), a resident of Srinivasa Nagar in Jagadgirigutta was among those who listened to Sanjay. Ramulamma has been struggling since the past few months to get her widow pension, doing rounds of various offices, but to no avail. She survives on the provisions she gets through her ration card.When asked who has an edge in the constituency, she said that people will decide only wh-en the election day approaches. Ramulamma’s opinion was echoed by many in and around Jagadgirigutta, which is predominantly populated by settlers mostly from Andhra Pradesh and north Indian states, as well as Marathas, making it a mini-India.
Sunny, an Andhra settler, told Express that during 2014 elections, the Andhra vote bank had voted for KP Vivekanand of the TDP (then in alliance with BJP). He later joined the TRS.“In 2018, the face of KCR helped him win again, but this time Kuna Srisailam Goud has an advantage because he has represented the segment before, and there is sympathy for him as he lost in 2014 and 2018,” Sunny said.
Srisailam Goud, who won as an Independent in 2009, believes that after contesting on Congress ticket in 2014 and 2018, his association with the BJP can work in his favour. When asked whether he would be able to transfer his Congress vote to the BJP, Srisailam Goud says that Quthbullapur was never a Congress stronghold. The situational advantage for BJP in Quthbullapur cannot be ruled out, as 80,000 to 90,000 of the 6,30,000 voters in the constituency are north Indians who settled there. The Andhra settlers also play a crucial role, as it is believed that they form more than 25 per cent of the voters there. There are around 30,000 Muslim voters.
Roads and drainage system are the primary issues affecting the people in the constituency apart from non-allotment of 2BHK houses, ration cards and pensions, as a majority of its population is from below the poverty line.
This gives the BJP a lot to target the TRS with, politically. “All the government lands in Jagadgirigutta have been occupied. There are no irrigation tanks or other water bodies left, as they have all been encroached upon. The north Indian population feels that they are not being treated on par with locals, as they are not receiving benefits like pensions, ration cards or 2BHK houses.
There is no government hospital in the entire constituency, or even a government degree college. KCR had promised to build Keshavpur reservoir in this area, but nothing has materialised,” said the BJP’s Dr G Manohar Reddy. He added that hundreds of representations were received by Sanjay’s padayatra team from individuals and communities. He is confident that the north Indian voters will favour the BJP.
However, the voters are keeping their cards close to their chest. “If he (Sanjay) comes once in five years and then disappears, there is no use. They should come more often, only then the people will have confidence,” Ramulamma said.
Creating a buzz
■ The BJP has managed to create a festive atmosphere in Quthbullapur, hoping to catch the eye of the voters
■ However, the voters prefer to wait and watch and take a decision on voting day