Nizamabad to miss bitter Arvind-Kavitha rivalry in this LS polls

Hyderabad Desk

Hyderabad: After tasting defeat in the recent Assembly elections, all three main contestants, including sitting MP Arvind Dharmapuri are testing their fortunes in the Nizamabad Lok Sabha constituency.

Arvind, who proved a giant killer on his electoral debut in 2019 by defeating K Kavitha, daughter of then Chief Minister, KC Rao, is taking on seasoned politicians of the Congress and the Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) this time.

With Kavitha staying away from the contest, the key constituency in north Telangana is missing the bitter rivalry between her and Arvind this time.

The arrest of the former MP by the ED and the CBI in the Delhi excise policy case has come as a shock to the BRS. This has given an issue to both the BJP and Congress to attack BRS over corruption but BRS may try to gain sympathy by projecting Kavitha as a victim of the alleged ‘political conspiracy’ by the BJP.

The absence of Kavitha appears to have taken the fizz out of the contest as she had vowed to defeat Arvind from any constituency he contested from.

She claimed to have played a key role in Arvind’s defeat in Koratla Assembly constituency in the elections held on November 30, 2023.

The BRS retained Koratla as Arvind lost to Kalvakuntla Sanjay by a margin of over 10,000 votes.

Koratla is one of the seven Assembly segments under the Nizamabad parliamentary constituency.

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In the recent Assembly polls, the BRS won three Assembly seats while the Congress and BJP bagged two each.

A close three-cornered fight is likely for the Nizamabad Lok Sabha seat between Arvind, Congress senior leader T Jeevan Reddy, and BRS candidate Bajireddy Goverdhan.

Interestingly both Jeevan Reddy and Bajireddy Goverdhan also lost Assembly elections from the segments under Nizamabad Lok Sabha constituency.

Jeevan Reddy, a former minister and currently a member of Telangana Legislative Council, lost to Dr M Sanjay Kumar of the BRS by a margin of 15,822 votes.

Bajireddy Goverdhan suffered defeat at the hands of the Congress’ R Bhupathi Reddy by a margin of nearly 22,000 votes in Nizamabad Rural constituency.

Nizamabad was the second Lok Sabha constituency after Adilabad where the BJP put up an impressive performance in the recent Assembly elections.

It wrested Armoor and Nizamabad Urban seats from BRS and finished second in the Koratla segment.

Arvind, who is known for his aggressive Hindutva stand, is again banking on the PM Modi factor to retain the seat.

Last month, he stirred controversy with the remark that people who do not support the BJP after benefiting from schemes implemented by the Modi government will go to hell.

“You are getting free food, free gas, and good schools are being set up. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is taking care of your health. He is sending money for marriages. He is giving loans to SHGs. He also abolished triple talaq and ensured your self-respect,” he had said at a meeting.

The 47-year-old is also highlighting the fact that his age is less than the political experience of his rival Jeevan Reddy.

He claims that the Congress leader has done nothing for the people of Nizamabad in his 47-year political career.

The BJP MP is seeking re-election on his “biggest achievement” of bringing the National Turmeric Board to the state.

This was the main promise made by Arvind in the 2019 elections and he had given it in writing and even signed it with a non-judicial (bond) stamp.

The constituency had hit headlines after 177 farmers jumped into the fray demanding remunerative prices for turmeric and red sorghum and setting up a Turmeric Board, taking the total number of candidates to 185.

In the bitterly-contested election, Arvind, son of former Congress and BRS leader and Rajya Sabha member D. Srinivas, defeated Kavitha by a margin of over 71,000 votes in 2019.

Kavitha had won the seat in 2014 by defeating his nearest rival Madhu Yaskhi Goud of the Congress by 1.67 lakh votes.

After defeat in 2019, Kavitha was elected to the Legislative Council from Nizamabad Local Authorities’ constituency in October 2020. She had been targeting Arvind through innovative protests for failing to fulfill his promise to the Turmeric Board.

“Arvind was reminded of his promise that he would get the Turmeric Board within five days of winning the election and that he had failed to get the Board in 4.5 years,” she had said.

The acrimony between the two leaders had reached its peak last year after Arvind had allegedly made some objectionable comments against Kavitha, following which her supporters ransacked the residence of the MP in Hyderabad.

The BRS had stepped up their campaign against Arvind after the Centre told the Parliament in March last year that there was no proposal to establish a Turmeric Board or any other spice-specific Board in the country.

However, on October 1, 2023, while addressing a public meeting in Mahabubnagar, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that the National Turmeric Board would be set up in Telangana to professionally focus on the entire value chain of turmeric.

Though there were many aspirants for the Nizamabad seat, the Congress leadership decided to field senior leader Jeevan Reddy.

Similarly, the BRS picked four-time MLA Bajireddy Goverdhan.

Jeevan Reddy was first elected to the Andhra Pradesh Assembly in 1983 on a TDP ticket from Jagtial and served as Excise Minister, the NT Rama Rao Cabinet.

He joined the Congress in 1984 and was re-elected to the Assembly from Jagtial in 1989, 1996, 1999, and 2004.

He served as a minister for roads and buildings in the YS Rajasekhara Reddy Cabinet between 2007 and 2009.

He was elected to the Telangana Assembly from Jagtial in 2014.

After his defeat in the 2018 elections, he entered the fray for Legislative Council elections and was elected from Karimnagar Graduates’ constituency in 2019.

Jeevan Reddy is contesting Lok Sabha elections for the third time. He twice contested unsuccessfully from Karimnagar. Both times, he lost to BRS chief and KC Rao.

While in 2006, Jeevan Reddy lost by a huge margin of over two lakh votes, in the bye-election in 2008, he narrowed the margin to 15,765 votes.

The 73-year-old questioned the failure of the sitting MP to establish the Turmeric Board despite an order issued six months ago. He also alleged that turmeric farmers were not receiving remunerative prices in recent years due to negligence by the NDA government.

The Congress leader is also raising the issue of unemployment and the loss to farmers due to the closure of sugar factories and is promising to reopen them by 2025.

He also promised to offer pensions to beedi-rolling women and to develop Nizamabad into a smart city, focussing on enhancing education, healthcare, and employment opportunities.

Bajireddy Goverdan who outlawed Maoists head-on in the early 1990s and survived two attempts on his life by them, is a senior leader of the BRS.

He has the distinction of winning Assembly elections as a Congress and BRS candidate from three different constituencies. He was first elected to the Assembly on a Congress ticket from Armoor in 1999.

In 2004, he was elected from Banswada. He joined YSRCP after it was floated by Jagan Mohan Reddy in 2010. Goverdhan joined TRS (now BRS) in 2014 and was elected to the Telangana Assembly from Nizamabad Rural constituency and retained the seat in 2018.

Like the BJP candidate Arvind, Goverdhan also comes from the numerically strong Munnuru Kapu community.

Leaders of the Congress party are hoping to get support from across communities in this constituency, which has over 15 lakh voters.

They claim that after Congress came to power, the public mood was in favor of the party. They are also expecting support from the Muslims, who constitute about 15 percent of the voters.

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