Modi factor very much in play in ‘mini-India’ Malkajgiri

The BJP candidate Eatala Rajender was a minister in the KCR government and switched over from the BRS in 2021.
Modi factor very much in play in ‘mini-India’ Malkajgiri
Illustration: Mandar Pardikar

HYDERABAD: The three-cornered contest in Telangana’s Malkajgiri constituency, which elected the state’s current Chief Minister Revanth Reddy as a Congress MP in 2019, may be a foregone conclusion.

The Congress has fielded a recent entrant from BRS, Patnam Suneetha Mahender Reddy, while the BRS candidate is a turncoat from the Congress, Ragidi Laxma Reddy. The BJP candidate Eatala Rajender was a minister in the KCR government and switched over from the BRS in 2021.

Who is the front-runner? A 45-year-old businessman from Kukatpally, Mahesh, who identified himself as a member of the Congress, did not hesitate for a moment when asked who he would support this time. “It’s Modi at the Centre. I believe in Modi and would vote for the BJP,” he said.

Mahesh is not alone in rooting for the saffron party. Several voters from Malkajgiri constituency said they would vote for the BJP.

Dhanalakota Shravan Kumar, a traditional artiste from Quthbullapur — one of the seven suburban Assembly segments making up the Malkajgiri LS seat — reasoned: “If I vote for Congress, my vote would be wasted as the party might not come to power at the Centre. As for the BRS, they have lost power in Telangana.” Most of Shravan’s neighbours shared similar views.

Though all seven segments of the Malkajgiri constituency voted for the BRS in the November 2023 Assembly elections, it appears that the saffron party has an edge in the LS polls.Eatala Rajender claims people are with PM Narendra Modi, whose 1.3-km roadshow in Malkajgiri on March 15 saw a massive response. Rajendar, who quit BRS after an acrimonious fallout with former CM K Chandrasekhar Rao, told this paper recently during Hyderabad Dialogues that the party can win 12 out of the 17 seats in the state, including Malkajgiri.

The constituency, established in 2009 following delimitation, has 37.47 lakh voters, with over 90% belonging to urban and suburban areas. With a sizable population of migrant settlers from other states including Tamil Nadu due to the presence of Central government institutions, Malkajgiri is deemed ‘Mini India’.

Since the seat came into being in 2009, the Congress has won twice and the TDP once — in 2014, when it was in alliance with the BJP.

Marwaris in Malkajgiri inclined to BJP: Sources

Revanth Reddy was elected in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, months after losing in the 2018 Assembly polls. While Revanth won with 38.63% of votes, Marri Rajashekhar Reddy of the BRS stood a close second with 37.93% while the BJP candidate was a distant third with 19.47%.

This time, the Congress candidate is Suneetha Reddy. She is Ranga Reddy Zilla Parishad chairperson and wife of former minister P Mahender Reddy. The BRS candidate, Ragidi Laxma Reddy, who quit the Congress last year after he was denied an Assembly ticket, was a close aide of Revanth and worked for him when he contested from Malkajgiri in 2019.

When asked about their preference, voters who favoured the BJP mostly had only two responses: “I want to vote for Modi” or “I know Eatala but I’m not very familiar with the other two candidates.” Political analysts also point out that while Suneetha Reddy is known in political circles, she is relatively new to the voters.

As for Laxma Reddy, Rasoolpura resident Rahim said: “I heard he was the assembly in-charge in Uppal. But I saw him only during an iftar party recently, when KTR introduced him to us. He did not hold a rally or a meeting with us after that.”

Laxma Reddy, a native of Hyderabad, has repeatedly stressed in his election campaigns that the BJP and Congress candidates are non-locals and that the people would support a local leader like him. (Eatala is from erstwhile Karimnagar district and Suneetha is from Tandur of Vikarabad district.)

However, political analysts say this is not a major issue. In the 2019 elections, though the BRS and BJP fielded local candidates, people voted for Revanth, who hails from erstwhile Mahbubnagar district.

There is a significant presence of migrant settlers from Tamil Nadu and other states in Malkajgiri. “In the previous elections, the BRS made a lot of promises in favour of the Tamil community but they did not follow through. So, most of our community members are looking to vote for the Congress or the BJP,” said Rajkumar, a settler from Tamil Nadu. “Some of the Tamils in the constituency say they would vote for the BJP as Modi recently extended his support to the Tamil language,” he added.

Political sources say the Marwaris in the constituency are inclined towards the BJP. There are also a lot of people who migrated from districts within the state, mostly from north Telangana. So, all parties are crafting strategies to get the votes of settlers.

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