The ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) has taken a U-turn in wooing close to 20 Andhra settlers to win the prestigious Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) elections slated to be held on Tuesday. Apart from promising Andhra people security and a bright future in the city, Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao has even fielded 15 of them from the 150 divisions in the civic body. KCR’s son and IT minister K. Tarakarama Rao (KTR), who has been entrusted with the responsibility of leading TRS in the polls, has been spending much of his time in the areas dominated by the Andhra people and even promised them a separate district of Kukatpally, dividing Hyderabad. Around 70% people in the Kukatpally area are from Andhra.
KTR promised more skyways and flyovers to them to tide over the nagging traffic problem in the area, and assured to expand power, water and drainage lines in the locality.
KTR went to the extent of saying that he would prefer his TRS to be renamed as Telugu Rashtra Samithi, suggesting that it would fight for all Telugu people’s interests.
KTR has been holding town hall meetings with IT and software employees, who, too, are mostly dominated by Andhra people. He is urging them to come out in full strength and vote for TRS. KCR’s daughter and Nizamabad MP Kavitha, too, is busy wooing the software professionals, who are estimated to number around three lakh in the city.
Both KCR and KTR have made it clear that there won’t be any discrimination against Andhra settlers and that they all belonged to Telangana. “There will be no word of settlers in our dictionary henceforth; let’s all join hands in the development of the new state,” KTR told a gathering in Jubilee Hills, another Andhra dominated posh area in the city.
As IT minister, KTR has been showcasing his efforts in the past 18 months to promote the software sector in the city andhas promised a better deal for the youth in the coming days. He told the IT force that it would be better to have one single party in power in both the state government and the GHMC. “Otherwise, who will bring funds to the city?” KTR is asking the public.
This is in sharp contrast to the picture two years ago. During the Telangana statehood agitation, the TRS primarily targeted the Andhra settlers in the city and vowed to teach them a lesson. Even after the state was formed in June 2014, KCR ordered the demolition of the Gurukul Trust Colony, mostly populated by Andhra people on the ground that they had violated building norms.
At one stage, people from Andhra living in Hyderabad expressed concerns over their safety and sought the protection of the Centre and the Governor.
However, the GHMC elections have changed it all. Now, CM KCR’s slogan is that giving justice to Telangana people doesn’t mean doing injustice to Andhra people living in the city.
Winning GHMC is important to KCR for two reasons: one, the corporation with around 75 lakh voters covers 22 Assembly segments in Hyderabad and surrounding districts and is crucial for retaining power in the 2019 elections, and second, the TRS has never been strong in the city as it is heavily populated by Andhra people and migrants from other states.
When the GHMC went to the polls in 2009, TRS had opted out of the race on the ground that it would divert its attention from the statehood agitation.
The Congress headed by Chief Minister K. Rosaiah then bagged the majority seats and captured the mayor’s post in league with ally, MIM.
However, after Telangana was formed in 2014, MIM parted ways with Congress and now is pally with the TRS. When the city’s civic body went to the polls in 2002, TRS had just won two out of the 100 divisions, thus exposing its organisational weakness in the metropolis. Since then, the TRS has been trying hard to shore up its strength in the city, but with little success. Even the party couldn’t win more than just two out of the 22 Assembly seats under the GHMC limits. On record, KTR has claimed that TRS will capture the mayor’s post and will at least 100 out of the 150 divisions in the GHMC. Though winning 100 seats might be a herculean task, the young minister is leaving no stones unturned to see that mayor’s post is won by his party. Besides the elected 150 corporators, another 52 ex-officio members like MPs, MLAs and MLCs vote for the mayor’s post.
TRS currently has 35 ex-officio members and is sure of 40-50 divisions in the corporation. Then, the party would need the backing of MIM which is expected to win anywhere around 50 divisions from the old city. There is no pre-poll pact between TRS and MIM, but the leaders of the Muslim minority party are not ruling out a post-poll tie-up with the ruling party.
TRS leaders are comforted with the fact that opposition Congress and TDP-BJP are not putting up a fierce fight in the GHMC elections.
The campaign of TDP, which is contesting 87 seats, is mostly led by AP Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu’s son and party general secretary Lokesh, while BJP, which is in the field from 63 seats, is led by the local leaders and Union minister Bandaru Dattatreya.