Settlers unsettle BJP, BRS ahead of voting in Telangana

This possibility is being discussed intensely in BRS and BJP circles as both these parties have been relying on “settler votes” in some of the Lok Sabha constituencies in Telangana.
Representative Image
Representative Image

HYDERABAD: Andhra settlers — people who have settled in Telangana while retaining links with Andhra Pradesh following the bifurcation of the state in 2014 — have the potential to upset the calculations of the three major political parties in the fray if they do decide to travel to their native places and cast their vote there.

This possibility is being discussed intensely in BRS and BJP circles as both these parties have been relying on “settler votes” in some of the Lok Sabha constituencies in Telangana.

According to sources from the various communities from Andhra Pradesh settled in Telangana, settlers are keen to vote for their preferred political party or alliance in Andhra Pradesh where the Assembly and Lok Sabha elections are being held simultaneously. Considering the fact that some pollsters are predicting a photo finish in Andhra Pradesh, many settlers are keen to travel and cast their vote in their native district.

There are 18 lakh to 22 lakh settler voters living in Greater Hyderabad limits who are registered as voters in both Telangana and Andhra Pradesh.

In the 2023 Assembly elections, most had backed the BRS, helping it win a majority of the seats in the GHMC limits. The Congress could not win even a single seat. Naturally, the BRS had been expecting settlers to back it again in the Lok Sabha elections. However, the decision of the settlers to exercise their franchise in their native places will be a massive setback for the BRS which is struggling to retain Chevella and win Malkajgiri and Secunderabad seats.

In these three constituencies, the polling percentage may very well decide the victor. Likewise, the BJP too has been hoping that settlers would vote for its candidates in these three seats, considering its alliance in AP.

Chevella’s choice

Most of the settlers are concentrated in Rajendranagar and Serilingampally Assembly constituencies that are part of the Chevella Lok Sabha seat. If the settlers do travel to Andhra Pradesh to vote, the BJP will face a tough time since the rural voters in the constituency are known to be inclined towards the Congress.

However, the BJP’s candidate, Konda Vishweswar Reddy, has been working very hard to connect with the rural voters and his efforts may just pay off.

Malkajgiri markers

The BRS swept all the Assembly constituencies in 2023, but the settlers’ decision may pose a challenge to this dominance. Again, the rural masses may favour the Congress and this is a cause for concern for BJP’s Eatala Rajender and Ragidi Laxma Reddy of the BRS.

Secunderabad story

In Secunderabad, Assembly constituencies like Jubilee Hills, Sanathnagar and parts of Khairatabad and Secunderabad are key due to them being home to a significant number of settlers. The decisions of these settlers could have far-reaching implications for G Kishan Reddy of the BJP and T Padma Rao of the BRS.

Congress confidence

Meanwhile, the Congress is expecting overwhelming settler support after coming to power in the state. It is the only party that is not too worried about the decision of the settlers as they had not voted for it en masse in the Assembly election. Nonetheless, the party is relying on its traditional votes and effective poll management to secure victory.

In fact, poll and booth management will hold the key to victory for all parties, particularly for the BJP and BRS. The settlers’ decision is expected to impact voter turnout, adding to the tension in these two parties.

Meanwhile, in neighbouring Andhra Pradesh, the YSRCP and TDP are aggressively

wooing the settlers in the GHMC to tilt the electoral scales in nearly 40 to 50 Assembly constituencies.

It may be mentioned here that in 2014, the TDP won just 1.5% more votes than the YSRC and formed the government in Andhra Pradesh. Understandably, the parties are sparing no effort, deploying leaders and resources to sway settlers in their favour.

With settler votes crucial in both the Telugu states, it’s natural that all political observers are studying the situation unfolding ahead of the elections in the state.

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The New Indian Express