A hotly-contested fight is underway between the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) and the opposition Congress party in Telangana over the Chevella Lok Sabha seat.
The last one week has seen a series of events unfold as both the TRS and Congress have reportedly been trying to lure Maheshwaram MLA Sabitha Indra Reddy, who was the former Home Minister of united Andhra Pradesh under the tenure of Chief Minister Y S Rajasekhara Reddy, and her son Karthik Reddy.
In the 2014 general elections, the TRS had fielded Konda Vishweshwar Reddy. An engineer-turned-entrepreneur, Vishweshwar Reddy is one of the richest politicians in the state and as per his affidavit filed in 2014, his total net assets including his spouse and three dependents that he had declared amounted to Rs 528,06,05,210.
Riding on the Telangana sentiment, Vishweshwar got 4,35,077 votes and had managed to defeat Karthik Reddy from the Congress, who received 3,62,054. However, Vishweshwar has since quit the TRS and turned into a critic of Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao. He had joined the Congress after meeting with Rahul Gandhi in Delhi last year, on the assurance that he would be renominated from the same constituency.
This has not left Sabitha and her son too pleased, as Karthik was eyeing the Chevella MP ticket.
Chevella is a crucial constituency in the state as it includes the Legislative Assembly constituencies of Serilingampally and Rajendranagar where the entire IT sector of Hyderabad and the Rajiv Gandhi International Airport (RGIA) are based and rural constituencies like Pargi and Tandur. Konda Vishweshwar Reddy is the grandson of former Andhra Deputy CM Konda Venkata Rangareddy. The district of Ranga Reddy, formerly known as Hyderabad Rural, was renamed after the late leader.
A prestige issue
The TRS is viewing this as a prestige issue as Vishweshwar was close to KCR and his exit from the party had left many upset. Keeping this in mind, the party was reportedly looking to rope in both Sabitha and her son.
Sources said that Karthik approached Hyderabad MP and All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) chief Asaduddin Owaisi, who set up a meeting between Sabitha and TRS Working President K T Rama Rao. The negotiation was reportedly for the Chevella MP ticket for Karthik and an assurance to induct Sabitha into the cabinet during the next expansion. However, Sabitha was quick to deny that the meeting took place and said that she would inform the media first if a decision was taken in this regard.
Meanwhile, the Congress is not going down without a fight as it deputed Working President Revanth Reddy to speak to Sabitha and convince her to stay back in the party. Both Revanth and Sabitha are scheduled to meet Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday evening or Wednesday morning over the matter even as Telangana Pradesh Congress Committee (TPCC) chief Uttam Kumar Reddy is also meeting Gandhi to finalise its first list of candidates for the polls.
A source close to top Congress leadership in New Delhi however said that it was a tricky situation, as Visweshwar had already been guaranteed the ticket and there was not much they can offer to Karthik and Sabitha, possibly signaling that the duo may go to the TRS.
Elections to 17 Lok Sabha constituencies in Telangana will be held on April 11, 2019. The Election Commission of India has announced that the state will see a single-phase election.