Chandrababu Naidu Goes After ‘Settler’ Vote in Hyderabad, But Avoids Tipping Anti-Telangana Narrative Scale
KCR has junked his anti-settler stand and the Andhra people have reconciled to the fact that Telangana is irreversible and “settlers” have to live in Hyderabad. But in this poll battle, TDP is trying to reopen the same old debate in a more subtle manner.
File photo of Andhra Pradesh CM Chandrababu Naidu.
Hyderabad: The man behind the ‘Mahakutami’ or the grand alliance in Telangana, Andhra Pradesh chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu addressed a public meeting with Congress chief Rahul Gandhi at Kukatpally, a suburb of Hyderabad, on Monday evening.
The crowd was mostly “settlers” - migrants from Andhra Pradesh, who live in Telangana.
Seeking vote for Kukatpally TDP candidate and his niece Nandamuri Suhasini, Naidu invoked his father-in-law NT Rama Rao’s name and asked the enthusiastic crowd to teach chief minister K Chandrashekhara Rao-led TRS a lesson.
On Tuesday too, Naidu held public meetings at places that have a large number of “settlers”.
It is evident that TDP is subtly playing the Andhra card to woo voters in this high-decibel election to Telangana Assembly. However, it is being extremely careful this time and trying to avoid being seen as an anti-Telangana party.
During the Telangana agitation, the locals versus “settlers” tension was at its peak as the latter were against division of Andhra Pradesh and had earned the wrath of TRS.
However, much water has flown in both Krishna and Godavari districts since Telangana came into existence four-and-half years ago. Both the anti–settler sentiment and Telangana sentiment are not visible anymore. The politics seems to have moved back to issues concerning everyday life.
KCR has junked his anti-settler stand and the Andhra people have reconciled to the fact that Telangana is irreversible and “settlers” have to live in Hyderabad.
But in this poll battle, TDP is trying to reopen the same old debate in a more subtle manner.
According to local political analysts, Andhra voters have a huge say in at least seven-eight Assembly seats in Greater Hyderabad area. They say there are about 12 lakh “settler” voters here.
The Greater Hyderabad region has 27 Assembly seats (14 seats in Hyderabad and 13 seats in Ranga Reddy districts respectively). Out of the 27 seats, the AIMIM has sway over 7 seats in Hyderabad. Even though there is a tough fight in three Assembly seats, the AIMIM is fighting to retain all 7 seats.
The Mahakutami, TRS and BJP are locked in a fierce multi-corner contest in the remaining 20 seats.
In 2014 Assembly elections, the ruling TRS had won just two seats from the Greater Hyderabad region. The AIMIM had won seven seats, the BJP won five seats and 12 seats went to Congress and TDP.
The Mahakutami feels that if it can win maximum number of seats from Greater Hyderabad this time, it may reverse the fortunes of TRS.
According to senior journalist Subramanyam, Kukatpally, Sherlingampalli, LB Nagar, Malkajgiri, Qutubullahpur, Jubilee Hills, Ibrahimpur and Uppal constituencies have about 40-50% Andhra voters and most of them are expected to vote for the TD-Congress combine.
“If they win about 15 seats from here, it can change the results. Because of that they are focusing more on this region” he said.
The TDP and the Congress are also using “brand Hyderabad” to remind the city people that it was the TDP and subsequent Congress governments that made Hyderabad a global city under Naidu and YSR.
They accuse KCR of ignoring the development of Hyderabad completely. Naidu and Rahul Gandhi made it a point to attack him at every rally over “stalled” developments in and around Hyderabad under KCR’s rule.
When News18 spoke to a few people in this region, some agreed that they must back Mahakutami to safeguard their interests. Some argued that locals versus “settlers” is a dead issue and they are now Telangana people.
The Congress and TDP friendship has set also off the alarm bells in Andhra Pradesh with TDP’s arch rivals YS Jaganmohan Reddy of YSRCP and cine star Pawan Kalyan’s Janasena telling their backers in Hyderabad region to vote for TRS or BJP.
A TDP supporter, Venkateshwarulu, told News18 that Reddys from Rayalaseema who support Jaganmohan Reddy and Balijas or Kapus from coastal Andhra who support Pawan Kalyan were already working against the grand alliance and it could help the TRS.
However, the TRS has put up a confident stand and argues that KCR and Owaisi are set for a big win Greater Hyderabad region.
TRS says that in the 2016 Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) elections, the TRS had polled 43.9% votes as against the 25% votes of TDP and Congress put together.
KCR’s son and Cabinet minister K T Rama Rao said that Mahakutami’s “divide and rule” tactics won’t work and the results will go in favour of TRS.
The Congress leaders are confident that they are on equal footing in north Telangana districts and a good show in Greater Hyderabad will enable them to topple the KCR regime. Besides Hyderabad region, the “settlers” have a huge population in southern districts of Mahbubnagar, Khammam and Nalgonda.
And the “Mahakutami” is hopeful of winning a majority number of seats from there too. The results of the Assembly elections are expected to end the “settlers” debate one way or the other.
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