Hyderabad, April 18: A union minister, a former top cop, a bureaucrat-turned-politician and an educationist are locked in a multi-cornered contest in Malkajgiri, one of India’s biggest Lok Sabha constituencies with nearly three million voters.
Located on the periphery of Hyderabad, this constituency is attracting all the attention for its unique characteristics and the many non-locals among the 30 candidates in the fray.
Though geographically a part of Telangana, Malkajgiri is the only constituency in the region where migrants from Seemandhra (Rayalaseema and coastal Andhra) will decide the fortunes of the candidates.
Unlike in other constituencies in Telangana where political parties are seeking votes by claiming credit for separate statehood to Telangana, the contestants here are promising protection of the migrants after June 2 when a separate Telangana state comes into being.
Considered an enclave of Seemandhra, this constituency came into existence in 2008 following delimitation. Sarve Satyanarayana of the Congress was elected to the Lok Sabha in the first election in 2009.Satyanarayana, a union minister of state for transport, is seeking re-election with an assurance to protect migrants who form over 50 percent of the electors.
The local candidate is pitted against bureaucrat-turned-politician Jayapraksh Narayan of Lok Satta, former Andhra Pradesh police chief V. Dinesh Reddy (YSR Congress), educationist Malla Reddy of the TDP-BJP combine, all hailing from Seemandhra.
Other key rivals include M. Hanumantha Rao of the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) and Osmania University professor Nageswara Rao, who is contesting as an independent.
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has fielded Sudhakiran Rao, the grandson of former prime minister P.V. Narasimha Rao. A doctor by profession, Sudhakiran is the son of Narsimha Rao’s daughter Sharada Venkata Kishan Rao.
As most voters are urban, middle-class, young and educated, Jayaprakash Narayan believes the atmosphere is congenial for the kind of politics he wants to usher in.
An IAS officer, he took voluntary retirement in the mid 1990s to launch Loksatta as a movement for governance reforms and later turned it into a political party.
In 2009, he was elected to the Andhra Pradesh assembly from Kukatpally, one of the seven assembly segments of the parliamentary constituency where the migrants are in an overwhelming majority.
“I had proposed a roadmap for development of both the states and if elected I will work for its implementation,” said Jayaprakash.
The TDP and the BJP may not have responded to his offer for an alliance but Jayaprakash has the backing of Telugu actor Pawan Kalyan, brother of superstar and Congress leader K. Chiranjeevi.
Pawan, who floated a new party, Jana Sena, was keen on contesting from here but dropped his plans after Jayaprakash decided to enter the fray.
Pawan is backing the BJP but in Malkajgiri he will not be campaigning for its ally the TDP.
Launching his party’s campaign from Malkajgiri, TDP chief N. Chandrababu Naidu promised to protect the migrants. The former chief minister is a strong contender for power in Seemandhra but is not expected to do well in Telangana.
YSR Congress, which is also weak in Telangana, has fielded controversial retired IPS officer V. Dinesh Reddy from Malkajgiri within hours after he joined the party. He retired as the director general of police Sep 30.
In 2009, Sarve Satyanarayana secured 388,000 votes while the Praja Rajyam Party (PRP) of Chirajeevi, which later merged with Congress, polled 238,000 votes. The TDP, which then had an alliance with the TRS and the Left parties, got 295,000 votes and the BJP 130,000 votes.
The Congress had bagged four of the seven assembly segments. The TDP, YSR Congress and Lok Satta had won one each.
(Mohammed Shafeeq can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)