“I am Jana Reddy outside Nagarjunasagar. People here call me Jana Naik. They love me. I’ve grown up, eaten boti and bhati with them.”
Kunduru Jana Reddy, seven-time MLA for Nagarjunasagar in the district and Congress Legislature Party leader in Telangana, has loyal supporters in most villages, but now faces a delicate situation in his four-decade political career.
Losing only twice till now — to Nimmala Ramulu of the Congress 40 years ago when he contested on Janata Party ticket and to Gundeboina Rammurthy Yadav of the Telugu Desam Party in 1994 by 2,621 votes — Mr. Reddy, 72, is busy applying his hard-learned lessons to the campaign.
“He has been covering at least eight villages a day since last week. It was never like this before,” says an election duty official monitoring reports.
However, it is not his main rival — Nomula Narsimhaiah of the Telangana Rashtra Samithi who lost to him by 16,476 votes in 2014 — who is worrying him. It is the discontent among people citing poor development and party workers who allege that Mr. Reddy is inaccessible. Then there are groups of beneficiaries supporting the welfare schemes of the TRS government.
Young voters who pose questions to the senior Congress leader during the campaign say there is a grouse among many that there has been very little development and that important issues are neglected. “Our fathers did not ask, but we will,” says one of a group of youngsters claiming to support the TRS. “The promise of a government degree college has been pending for over 10 years. There is no drainage system in a municipality such as Haliya, and drinking water is not available at Peddavoora and Tirumalagiri mandals, though the Nagarjunasagar dam is close by,” says a resident of Haliya.
- Nivedita is the BJP candidate and the BSP has fielded K. Yadaiah. They and a few Independents candidates raise questions about Mr. Jana Reddy’s pending promises and works.
A 30-bed hospital started five years ago has not been upgraded, education and migration of youth is yet to be addressed and the tourism potential remains untapped.
Mr. Narsimhaiah, 63, a former CPI(M) leader who is from outside the constituency, faces instant rejection in a few areas. M.C. Kotireddy, a TRS loyalist who did not secure the nomination, would have given a better fight, say local leaders.
Mr. Narsimhaiah is hoping that the unfulfilled promises of Mr. Reddy, including the Nellikal Lift Irrigation Scheme that would have met the drinking water and irrigation needs here, will help his cause. Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao’s image and welfare schemes and the campaign by senior TRS leaders give him an edge.
Mr. Jana Reddy is candid in his short campaign speeches. “I have done the best I could. Please vote for me if you like the Congress party, if you are benefited by my work,” he says.
The tables will be turned, both Congress and TRS supporters say.