Telangana Polls: Why Is KCR Contesting From Both Gajwel & Kamareddy This Time?

KCR is filing nominations on 9 November from not just his home turf Gajwel, but also Kamareddy.

Hindi Female

(This story was originally published on 15 October. It has been republished from The Quint's archives in light of Telangana Chief Minister and Bharat Rashtra Samithi chief K Chandrasekhar Rao filing his nomination from Gajwel on 9 November.)

As the Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) – which released its candidate list well ahead of rivals Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the Telangana Assembly elections – kickstarts its campaigning in the state, many in political circles are perplexed by BRS president and Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao's choice to contest from two constituencies this time.

KCR is filing his nominations on 9 November from not just Gajwel Assembly constituency – the 'home turf' that he is currently representing – but also the Kamareddy segment, a statement from the party said.

The Kamareddy Assembly constituency falls under the newly formed district of the same name. After filing the nomination papers, KCR is set to address a public meeting in segment, the BRS statement said.

"No one knows for sure why he chose Kamareddy – but he is our leader and we know he is doing it to better the party's prospects," Chevella BRS MP Ranjith Reddy told The Quint.

During a BRS election rally recently, Telangana IT Minister and son of KCR, KT Rama Rao, said his father chose Kamareddy "as he has an unbreakable bond with the people of the constituency."


Eyeing the Border?

Speaking to The Quint, R Pridhvi Raj, a political commentator, said that there are a lot of speculations surrounding KCR's decision – and that it may have something to do with the constituency's location.

Kamareddy district is located in the northern part of Telangana and shares boundaries with both Maharashtra and Karnataka. "It is especially interesting that KCR chose Kamareddy and Gajwel constituencies, both of which are in the northern part of the state," he pointed out.

Gajwel Assembly constituency falls in the Siddipet district, which shares a border with Kamareddy.

"The BRS (formerly Telangana Rashtra Samithi) is a national party now – and it has been trying to increase its presence in Maharashtra. And Kamareddy is not so far from the Maharashtra border. KCR contesting from Kamareddy would mean a boost for the party in the whole region."
R Pridhvi Raj

A senior BRS leader and Telangana government official appeared to share the same view. "Kamareddy is possibly a closer route to his next destination, which is Maharashtra," the leader told The Quint.

The BRS, which is in the middle of a major Maharashtra outreach, has held several rallies in the state over the past few months – hoping to push the image of being a 'farmer-friendly' sarkaar. The party's pitch in Maharashtra includes schemes like Rythu Bandhu and Rythu Bhima, which are operational in Telangana.


'Strengthening Hold on Nizamabad'

Kamareddy is among the 21 new 'KCR districts' that were created on 11 October 2016 – and these new districts were likely to have contributed to the party's thumping win in 2018.

The establishment of a new district brings numerous advantages to a specific area, including the introduction of additional facilities and improved accessibility to district-level administration. It is also a move that is often used by parties in power to garner political and electoral support.

While the Kamareddy Assembly segment technically falls under the Zaheerabad Parliamentary constituency, the district was bifurcated from the Nizamabad district two years after the formation of the Telangana state.

Pridhvi Raj speculated that KCR's decision may also have something to do with Kamareddy's proximity to the Nizamabad district.

"Kamareddy and Nizamabad are contiguous. And why is Nizamabad important to the BRS? In the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, KCR's daughter K Kavitha was defeated as the Nizamabad MP by BJP's Dharmapuri Arvind."
R Pridhvi Raj

Kavitha's unprecedented defeat in the previous Lok Sabha polls was attributed to her supposed failure in setting up a National Turmeric Board in Telangana. The turmeric farmers of the state – especially in the Nizamabad region – have been demanding the same for years.

In fact, in 2019, several turmeric farmers had filed nominations from Nizamabad en masse as part of a movement to get their demand realised.

"But now, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has sanctioned a National Turmeric Board, and this might help the BJP in the region. It is, however, unclear whether the board will be set up in Nizamabad or even Telangana," the analyst said.

Either way, KCR contesting from the region might boost BRS' prospects not just in the Assembly polls but also in the Lok Sabha elections next year, he added.


'Opting for a Safe Seat': Congress

When KCR announced earlier that he would be contesting from Kamareddy as well, he said it was because he was "invited by the leaders of the constituency" to do so.

The sitting BRS MLA in Kamareddy, Gampa Govardhan, is a five-time legislator, who has won the constituency for the party in 2012, 2014, and 2018. In the 2014 Assembly elections, he defeated former legislator Mohammed Ali Shabbir of the Congress by a margin of 8,683 votes. In 2018, however, there was a considerable decline in his margin against Shabbir – 4,557 votes.

"There is some speculation that KCR is contesting from Kamareddy owing to the decline in Gampa Govardhan's margin. But there are MLAs, too, in that position, so why did he choose Govardhan? We can't really say."
R Pridhvi Raj

The Congress, meanwhile, claims that KCR chose two constituencies as he was not confident that he would win his stronghold Gajwel. In the 2018 elections, KCR had a comfortable lead against Congress' Vanteru Pratap Reddy in Gajwel and defeated him by 58,290 votes.

Accusing the chief minister of "fleeing to Kamareddy," Telangana Pradesh Congress Committee president Revanth Reddy said earlier: "If KCR wanted to run away, there was Siddipet and Sircilla. But going to Kamareddy, where there is a minority leader like Shabbir Ali, is an insult to the minorities."

Kamareddy has a sizeable minority population that accounts for about 10 percent of the total population in the district.

On the other hand, the BJP, which is fielding former TRS minister Eatala Rajender from Gajwel (as well as Huzurabad) this time, also claims that KCR chose Kamareddy as he is "afraid to face Eatala."


But this is not the first time that KCR is contesting from two constituencies simultaneously. In 2014, he contested from Gajwel in the Assembly elections and from Medak in the Lok Sabha elections. He won both seats but gave up the Medak parliamentary seat.

Speaking to The Quint, Ranjith Reddy said: "Right now, the BRS is a national party, so he might even want to contest as an MP in the Parliamentary polls next year. The plans are going to keep changing, and the three months after the Assembly elections will be crucial."

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