Securing Malkajgiri, Mahbubnagar a matter of prestige for Revanth

Though the chief minister enjoys support in Malkajgiri, the party has to tackle ‘local vs non-local issue’ in this segment
Telangana CM Revanth Reddy
Telangana CM Revanth ReddyPhoto | Express

HYDERABAD: The upcoming Lok Sabha elections, the first since he took over the reins of Telangana Pradesh Congress Committee (TPCC) and as the chief minister of Telangana, pose a big challenge to A Revanth Reddy’s reputation and leadership.

Even as the Congress is chalking out strategies to bag maximum number of Lok Sabha seats in the state, helping the grand old party secure two segments — Malkajgiri and Mahbubnagar — will be a prestige issue for Revanth.

The party is optimistic of winning Malkajgiri seat as the present chief minister enjoys significant support in the constituency he represented in the 17th Lok Sabha.

The party also has high hopes of winning the Mahbubnagar seat as Revanth hails from this segment.

Though the party is sounding confident of clinching these two seats, the leadership is facing certain hurdles. In Malkajgiri, the party has fielded Vikarabad Zilla Parishad chairperson Patnam Suneetha Mahender Reddy. Though she is known in political circles, Suneetha is relatively new to the voters. But she is trying to overcome that by touring the constituency frequently, conducting meetings and interacting with the people across the segment.

Not performed well in 7 Assembly segments

Even though the Congress failed to win even one seat in the Assembly segments — Medchal, Malkajgiri, Quthbullapur, Kukatpally, Uppal, LB Nagar and Secunderabad Cantonment — that comprise the Malkajgiri parliamentary constituency in the 2018 state elections, Revanth emerged winner with over 10,000 majority in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.

The situation is similar after the recent Assembly polls as the grand old party didn’t win in any of these seven segments. However, the fact that the Congress is ruling in the state could work in its favour.

Political observers have pointed out that there is a marked difference in the stature of the candidates. While Revanth was considered a firebrand leader in 2019 and the voters gave him opportunity — first in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls and then in the 2023 Assembly elections — to prove his mettle, Sunitha doesn’t enjoy this privilege. This time, the opposition parties have already propped up the ‘non-local’ issue during their respective campaigns.

BJP candidate a formidable rival

While the BJP is fielding former minister Eatala Rajender, who enjoys the support of people across the state, the BRS nominated Ragidi Laxma Reddy, who the party claims is a local.

Given the situation, it will be an uphill battle for the TPCC chief who will also have to address the allegations of neglecting the constituency for the last five years. Rajender and Laxma Reddy have shed light on these issues and appealed to the constituency against voting for the Congress candidate, which has only added to Revanth’s troubles.

Meanwhile, the chief minister is not scheduled to take part in any serious campaigning activities — conducting roadshows, public meetings or other public engagements — in Malkajgiri. Meanwhile, leaders of the other parties have held programmes across the segment. It must be noted that Prime Minister Narendra Modi campaigned for the BJP and took part in a roadshow in the segment in March. The lack of canvassing, apart from the lack of support in some pockets for the grand old party, will add to the challenges for the Congress.

Groupism a hurdle to Mission 15

In Revanth’s home turf, Mahbubnagar, the situation remains precarious. It must be noted that the chief minister represents Kodangal in the Assembly, which also falls under the Mahbubnagar Lok Sabha constituency. This puts extra pressure on Revanth as the head of the state government and president of the grand old party’s Telangana unit.

Meanwhile, sources have said that groups have emerged with the party candidate, Ch Vamsi Chand Reddy, on one side and a few sitting MLAs on the other. The internal factionalism could impact the party’s chances in its mission to win 15 seats in the state.

On the other hand, the BJP has fielded a strong candidate, DK Aruna, who emerged as the runner-up in the last elections behind the TRS (now BRS) nominee.

The BJP vice-president has already begun aggressive campaigning and will look to leverage her networks and the contacts she cultivated during her tenure as minister in undivided Andhra Pradesh apart from her family history in politics to secure the seat.

Additionally, Revanth’s comments at a recent meeting in Kodangal, that Aruna was trying to defame him with claims of factions in the Mahbubnagar segment, have led to panic within the grand old party. This has also stirred discussions across the segment.

Candidates and senior leaders under pressure

In both Malkajgiri and Mahbubnagar, opponents are gaining momentum, yet the Congress has not initiated a substantial campaign under the TPCC chief’s leadership. This lack of action places significant pressure on candidates and senior party leaders tasked with overseeing the campaigns.

Revanth aims to extensively cover the state to secure a majority across segments, declaring the elections as a referendum on his government’s 100-day rule. However, many leaders face the challenge of addressing weaknesses in various constituencies and rallying support.

The focus remains on securing a minimum of 12 to 14 seats across all Lok Sabha constituencies. The crucial task ahead involves reinvigorating the party’s connection with the people and instilling confidence in candidates, which is a major challenge for senior leaders.

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