A former Congress citadel, wrested by TRS chief K Chandrasekhar Rao a decade ago, the Mahabubnagar Lok Sabha seat is set for a tripartite contest with the BJP emerging as a strong contender after managing to engineer key defections.
Named after the sixth Nizam, Mahabubnagar has a voter base of over 15.87 lakh. In 2014, A P Jithender Reddy of the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) defeated former Union minister and Congress leader S Jaipal Reddy with a slender margin of 2,590 votes.
Jithender Reddy, however, switched over to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) after he was denied a ticket by the TRS. Notably, the incumbent MP, who was a floor leader of the TRS in the Lok Sabha, had won the Mahabubnagar seat on a BJP ticket in 1999.
The BJP has already fielded D K Aruna, former Congress minister and a key political figure who embraced the saffron party only last month. Aruna hails from one of the strong political families of Mahabubnagar district.
With the two leaders on board, the BJP sees its hopes rising in the Mahabubnagar seat, but it is certainly an uphill task for the outfit.
The TRS, which had won all the seven Assembly segments in the constituency in state election last December, has fielded Manne Srinivas Reddy.
The TRS nominee said the welfare and development schemes implemented by the KCR government would be the factor that would ensure his victory.
The Congress, on the other hand, has given a ticket to Vamshi Chand Reddy. The former MLA says he is confident of a smooth sailing as Mahabubnagar has a minority voter base of 1.5 lakh and over 1 lakh first-time voters, besides the traditional vote bank of the party.
“I am a young guy with clean political image. And promises made by the Congress party are also attracting the public. On the other hand, if you see, D K Aruna changed many parties and the TRS candidate is not known to public much,” Chand Reddy told PTI.
According to some political analysts, the trend for the BJP is “upward” and the party’s prospects would be boosted by the joining of Aruna. Prime Minister Narendra Modi also addressed an election rally here last week, seeking to boost the morale of the party’s rank and file.
“The Congress is not my competitor at all. The ruling TRS party is the main rival. Though the TRS won all the seven seats in the constituency, these (Assembly) elections are not for the national level leadership. The BJP is strong here and, with my joining, it becomes stronger,” Aruna told PTI.
Asked about switching loyalties to the BJP from the Congress, Aruna said the local leadership of the grand old party in Telangana had become weak and claimed that the people were losing confidence in it.
“It has also failed to play the role of a constructive Opposition. The present leadership is also neglecting strong leaders like me. On the other hand, they tried to weaken us,” added Aruna, who lost the Assembly poll from Gadwal.
Mahabubnagar goes to polls in the first phase of the Lok Sabha election on Thursday, long with the other 16 parliamentary seats of Telangana.