KCR, Pandharpur, farmers
Opposition leaders in Telangana are accusing Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao of eyeing the sizable tracts of land in Kamareddy. File photo

Telangana polls: Why KCR chose Kamareddy as his second seat

It is, after all, a backward district that is 90% rural; the Opposition says the reasons are more economic than political

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The Kamareddy Assembly constituency in Telangana has shot into the limelight after Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao announced that he will contest the upcoming state Assembly elections from there. He will fight the elections from Gajwel constituency as well, which he has been representing for two terms.

Reacting to the news, Opposition leaders are attributing 'economic' reasons behind K Chandrasekhar Rao (KCR)'s decision to contest from this particular constituency. When KCR unveiled his party, the Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS)’s list of candidates on August 21, he had revealed that sitting MLA Gampa Goverdhan, a BC leader, had requested him to contest from Kamareddy and hence he had obliged.

Opposition leaders in the state, however, think otherwise. They believed that it is purely a decision driven by economics rather than a political one, with KCR eyeing the large tracts of lands available in the region.

The Kamareddy Municipal Masterplan

Situated on NH-44, Kamareddy enjoys an enviable position because of its proximity to Hyderabad and is well connected to the capital by road and rail. Still, it is a backward district, which is 90 per cent rural and has a literacy rate of 48.9 per cent (2011). The locals feel ten years of BRS rule has not made any difference.

In January 2023, farmers from 8 villages revolted against the Kamareddy Municipal Masterplan because they feared it was merely an attempt to grab their lands under the pretext of earmarking industrial and recreational zones. The movement grew fiercer and spread to another town Jagtial as well. Sensing the mood of farmers, the state government withdrew the Masterplan. Consequently, the master plans of other municipalities were also put on hold.

Noted urban geography expert Prof BV Subbarao said because of steep land prices, farmers are not ready to part with their lands and the government will face more resistance in the future if masterplans target fertile lands. “To avoid future confrontation, KCR may have thought it better to contest from Kamareddy to get the Masterplan approved without a hitch. Once the Kamareddy Masterplan is approved there won’t be much resistance in other municipalities,” pointed out Prof Subbarao.

Availability of large tracts of land

KCR is attracted by the availability of large tracts of valuable lands around Kamareddy, alleged local BJP leader Katipalli Venkataramana Reddy. He pointed out that there are about 10,000 to 12,000 acres of assigned land available on both sides of NH-44 that passes through Kamareddy besides forest and government lands.

Venkataramana Reddy alleged that land grabbing had already begun, adding that the controversial Srivari Venture near Kamareddy had come up on government lands with the backing of BRS bigwigs. “KCR’s arrival in Kamareddy will escalate the threat to both farmlands and government lands,” asserted Venkataramana Reddy, who lost the Assembly election in 2018.

“Selling lands is KCR’s major developmental plank. He seems to have found Kamareddy an ideal constituency for this. Once he wins, his agenda will be implemented in full force,” added Venkataramana Reddy, who took an active role in the anti-Masterplan agitation.

Md Ali Shabbir, a Congress former minister, who represented Kamareddy twice, felt KCR has a bigger gameplan in mind for this particular constituency. According to Shabbir, very soon, Hyderabad will have no government lands to sell and Gajwel has been used up.

"So, KCR is targeting districts. The people belonging to his caste and his businessmen friends need to extend to new areas. If you see the map, you will find a Karimnagar– Sircilla-Siddipet, Vemulavada- Kamareddy- Gajwel- Karimnagar Velama triangle. Kamareddy is essential to strengthen the caste triangle. If KCR loves Kamareddy so much, why did he forget it for 10 years? Where is the Pranahita-Chevella package 22 project meant to bring Godavari water to the area?” asked Shabbir, adding that the government was now tapping lands in other areas.

Enormous economic potential

Shabbir, who was a minister in the YSR government in united Andhra Pradesh, lost the 2018 election with a thin margin of 5,000 votes. “The reason behind the sudden love for Kamareddy is its land resources. KCR suffered a setback at the hands of farmers who revolted against the Masterplan, a commercial venture with an eye on farmlands. But farmers forced him to withdraw it. Sensing that losing the constituency in the next elections will thwart his expansion plans, KCR has wrested the Kamareddy seat from Gampa Goverdhan,” said Shabbir.

Prof Kodandaram, president of Telangana Jana Samiti (TJS) also did not rule out the economic angle behind KCR’s decision to contest from the Kamareddy constituency. “Kamareddy has enormous economic potential. In the name of development, acquiring farmlands has become the order of the day in Telangana. CM’s explanation that the sitting MLA invited him and he accepted sounds ridiculous,” he said.

Kamareddy’s role in statehood movement

On the other hand, BRS leaders hailed KCR’s move to contest from Kamareddy.

Dismissing the reasons given by Opposition leaders on why KCR picked Kamareddy as his second constituency, advocate and former Telangana Food Commission chairman Kommu Thirumal Reddy said KCR family’s affinity with the constituency combined with Kamareddy’s role in the statehood movement have probably played a role behind his choice.

Thirumal Reddy told The Federal, “KCR’s ancestors lived in Konapur village in the constituency and later migrated to Chintamadaka in Medak district. His association with Kamareddy grew stronger during the Telangana movement. The first resolution demanding a separate state was adopted by the Kamareddy Bar Association. It was here the TRS won their first local body elections and subsequently bagged the post of Nizamabad ZP chairman.”

He also slammed the claim by the Opposition that KCR was facing an anti-incumbency wave in Gajwel stating it was a deliberate campaign floated by the Congress and BJP.

Another Gajwel in the making?

K Venugopal, former teachers' union leader said following KCR’s decision people are expecting a huge economic transformation to unfold in the constituency similar to what happened in Gajwel.

“Now, many are convinced that Kamareddy, a region without water for agriculture and industries for jobs, will get preferential treatment if the chief minister represents the constituency,” he said.

Whatever the reason behind picking Kamareddy as his second constituency, BRS workers claim that it will be a cakewalk for KCR. However, there are other naysayers who argue that the triangular contest in the constituency won’t make it easy for BRS.

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