With its 31 lakh voters, securing Malkajgiri an uphill task for TRS, Cong, BJP

With over 31 lakh voters, Malkajgiri is the largest Lok Sabha constituency in the country and is often described as ‘Mini India’ for being home to the migrants from various states.

Comprising Assembly segments spread in Hyderabad, its twin city Secunderabad and neighbouring districts of Ranga Reddy and Medchal, it is also a huge constituency in terms of area.

Formed following the delimitation of constituencies in 2008, it is set to witness a third election next week with the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) looking for its first victory here.

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A keen three-cornered contest is on among TRS candidate Marri Rajashekar Reddy, Congress’ Telangana unit working president A Revanth Reddy and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)’s N Ramchander Rao.

Rajashekar Reddy is the son-in-law of state minister Malla Reddy, who was elected to the Lok Sabha from Malkajgiri in 2014 on a Telugu Desam Party (TDP) ticket. TDP, which then had an alliance with the BJP, wrested the seat from the Congress.

Malla Reddy, who defeated M Hanumanth Rao of TRS by more than 28,000 votes, later defected to the TRS. He contested the recent Assembly elections on a TRS ticket and was elected from Medchal, one of the seven Assembly segments that fall under Malkajgiri parliamentary constituency. He was subsequently inducted into the state cabinet.

Rajashekar Reddy, who is associated with the chain of educational institutions run by his father-in-law, is making his political debut. The 50-year-old, who declared assets of nearly Rs57 crore while filing his nomination, is banking on the popularity of Chief Minister and TRS president K Chandrashekhar Rao.

KCR’s son and TRS working president K Tarakarama Rao is leading the party’s campaign with road shows and public meetings. Popular among the youth, especially the techies, KTR is seeking votes with a promise that the government will undertake more development works as part of its mission to transform Hyderabad into a world-class city.

KTR has taken the responsibility of ensuring TRS victory in Secunderabad, Malkajgiri and Chevella, three of the four Lok Sabha constituencies in and around Greater Hyderabad. The party has left Hyderabad for its ally All India Majlis-e-Ittehedul Muslimeen (AIMIM) though it fielded the candidate in a friendly contest.

In 2014, the TDP-BJP alliance had won a majority of the 24 Assembly seats in Greater Hyderabad, mainly with the backing of people who hail from Andhra Pradesh. Subsequently, the situation turned in favour of TRS with many legislators and party leaders switching loyalty to the ruling party.

TRS made inroads in the Assembly segments with sizeable population from Andhra Pradesh. Under KTR’s leadership, the party, for the first time, came to power in the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) in 2016.

In the Assembly elections held in December 2018, TRS won 14 seats while its ally AIMIM retained seven. In the Malkajgiri Lok Sabha constituency, TRS bagged six out of seven seats. The lone Congress MLA, Sudheer Reddy, who was elected from LB Nagar, also crossed over to the TRS. With all Assembly segments under its control, the TRS is confident of winning Malkajgiri.

It is noteworthy that the candidates of both the Congress and the BJP were defeated in the recent Assembly elections. Revanth Reddy, considered a firebrand, lost the polls in Kodangal in Vikarabad district, a constituency he represented twice.

The Congress fielded Revanth from Malkajgiri as the party felt that he had better prospects. Known as a good orator and bitter critic of the TRS, he has the ability to enthuse the cadres.

A former TDP leader, Revanth was at the centre of the cash-for-vote scam of 2015. Then a close aide of TDP president and Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N  Chandrababu Naidu, he was caught red-handed by the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) while offering Rs50 lakh to nominated MLA Elvis Stephenson to make him vote for the TDP candidate in the Legislative Council election. Revanth joined the Congress in 2017 and was last year appointed working president of the party’s state unit.

With the TDP not contesting the elections in Telangana, Revanth is hoping to garner traditional votes of that party, especially in the Assembly segments of Kukatpally, Malkajgiri and Qutubullapur, which has a large number of migrants from Andhra Pradesh.

The TDP was part of the Congress-led People’s Alliance in Assembly elections. The Communist Party of India (CPI) and the Telangana Jana Samithi (TJS), two other constituents of the alliance, have declared support to Revanth.

Though a non-local, Revanth believes he has fair chances. “The issues in Lok Sabha elections are different from the Assembly polls. I am sure the people prefer a national party like the Congress in parliamentary elections,” he said.

BJP’s Ramchander Rao, a member of the State Legislative Council, was defeated in Malkajgiri Assembly segment, one of the Assembly segments under Malkajgiri Lok Sabha constituency.

Rao, a senior advocate and a member of BJP’s national executive, is banking on Modi charisma. He is confident that the urban voters will back the BJP.

The party is also eyeing votes of defence personnel and ex-servicemen in Secunderabad Cantonment, one of the Assembly segments. It is one of the biggest cantonments in the country.

However, as the BJP could not win a single seat in Malkajgiri Lok Sabha constituency in the recent Assembly polls, Rao may find the going tough.

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