Residents of this weaver village, who had for the past three elections stood by Kalvakuntla Taraka Rama Rao (KTR), son of K Chandrasekhar Rao, may this time hand defeat to the foreign-educated TRS leader.
The state Information Technology minister, who is eyeing his fourth victory, has a tough task in hand as villagers are still upset with the treatment meted out to them after they protested the death of a Schedule Caste man, Bhumayya.
In the past, KTR was a popular figure in the constituency. He had sanctioned close to Rs 6,000 crore for development works and okayed the much-needed textile park in the district.
It all started on July 2, 2017, when Bhumayya, a resident of Narella village, was mowed down by a sand-laden truck near Jillela village. The villagers alleged that four persons have been killed and 42 accidents have taken place on the road used by contractors to transport sand from Midmaneru reservoir.
After the accident, angry villagers burnt down several sand-laden trucks and attacked the police, injuring a sub-inspector.
On July 4, police raided houses of Penta Babayya, Kola Harish, Chepyala Balaraju, Pasula Eswara Kumar, Gandham Gopal, Bathula Mahesh, Korraganti Ganesh and Cheekoti Srinivas, mostly from Nerella and Ramachandrapuram villages.
The police allegedly used third-degree on those who were arrested for torching the trucks, and six of them were shifted to hospital with serious health issues.
The Opposition escalated the issue and took the matter to President Ram Nath Kovind.
All this while KTR never visited the village or enquired about the incident, the villagers charged.
The IT minister visited the victims of custodial torture in the hospital only after a petition was filed in the high court and the sub-inspector was suspended for using excessive force.
KTR had also refused to link the incident to the sand mafia or caste saying that the TRS government’s revenue has increased due to sand mining.
“Since that incident, no one, from the TRS visited the village. The sand mafia still runs illegal trucks on our road putting our lives in danger every day. We will not vote for the TRS,” Kola Narsayya, a member of SC community from Narella, said.
The villagers are also up in arms against KTR over placing the victims of police excesses under house arrest during the launch of his election campaign in the district recently.
“It is simple mathematics. KTR is simply supporting the sand mafia and using that illegal money to plough back into the district. Where is Rs 6,000 cr he had promised for the development of Sircilla,” BSP candidate Ramakanth questioned.
However, M Satish from Jillela village, where Bhumayya was killed, says development is visible under KTR.
He said that KTR is strong in Sircilla urban, as the weaver community has largely benefitted from the Rs 400 cr Batukamma free saree programme launched by the TRS government.
The Congress has once again fielded K K Mahender Reddy against KTR. Reddy lost to KTR in 2009 elections and during the bypoll and general elections.