Congress-CPI combine surges ahead in Khammam

Congress-CPI combine surges ahead in Khammam

The stretch from Khammam to Madhira at the border of Krishna district stands out in the history of armed struggle for Telangana. It dates back to Communists fighting the marauding Razakars of the last Nizam.

“The Razakars took all the cattle from our village, we fought back. I survived but many were arrested and were found dead after few days. They were all lynched,” Arjun Yadav vividly remembers.

The octogenarian has come from Rayannapet village to take part in a roadshow jointly organised by the CPI and the Congress on Friday.

“There are around 30,000 voters in these villages ‘loyal’ to the Communists. Now, there are two parties, but at that time, it was only one,” says Upendraiah of Motamarri village. CPI state secretary and Khammam Lok Sabha candidate K Narayana and Madhira (SC) Assembly Segment candidate from the Congress and former deputy speaker of Andhra Pradesh Assembly Mallu Bhatti Vikramarka. “Isn’t it a nice rally to see when the TDP and the BJP are bickering over seat sharing,” says Narayana, pointing at the young men sporting red flags and Congress flags on their motorbikes.

“We are working together at least in this segment to ensure victory,” a confident Bhatti says. While Bhatti showers his voters with many promises such as Rs 1 lakh deposit for each woman self help group member and one job for each family, Narayana is trying to encourage the voters to see the big picture. “My struggle is on the political side, I am not into promises which the central party will take care of,” he says.

Despite the staunch following, the Khammam parliamentary seat was won by the PDF twice (1952 and 1957) and the CPM (1996) once. Since its formation, Khammam segment has been a Congress stronghold as the grand old party won the seat 11 times.

Former AP chief minister Jalagam Vengal Rao won the seat in 1984. However, Congress candidate firebrand Renuka Choudhury lost to TDP‘s Nama Nageswar Rao, a businessman in 2009 elections, with a margin of 1,24,448 votes. In 2004 elections, Renuka defeated debutant Nama.

This time, the CPI has fielded its state secretary K Narayana, a supporter of Telangana despite his coastal credentials, the TDP re-nominated Nama Nageswar Rao, the TRS is playing minority card opted for Budan Beg Shaik. P Srinivasa Reddy (YSRCP) and Ravindra Naik (Loksatta) are also contesting. The CPM, which has fielded Tammineni Veerabhadram in 1996 when it won the seat, has lost steam and extended support to YSRCP as both the parties stood by united Andhra Pradesh. “But the basic Congress vote bank is still not divided between the Congress and the YSRC. So, the Congress vote bank is intact,” says Bhatti Vikramarka.

The CPI has fielded T Ramesh from Pinapaka Assembly segment, M Narayana in Wyra, K Samba Siva Rao in Kotha Gudem under seat adjustment with the Congress, which has fielded Puvvada Ajay in Khammam, V Mitrasena in Aswaraopet (ST), Sambhani Chandrasekhar in Sattupalli (SC) and R Venkat Reddy in Paleru. The Congress-CPI combine seemed impressive in the first round of campaign, as the TDP and the BJP are yet to announce a combined strategy.

The TRS, which has been very active in the Northern Telangana districts, has to face a costal AP-like situation here as Khammam is close to Vijayawada than Hyderabad and people’s lives are interwoven with west Godavari and Krishna districts of Seemandhra. However, the Khammam voters are politically well aware of their geographical identity and could be expected to go for parties that have announced support for Telangana.

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