Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao on Friday visited the residence of senior Telugu Desam Party (TDP) leader and former minister Mandava Venkateswara Rao and invited the latter to join the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) in the state. The CM was accompanied by Rajya Sabha MP J Santosh Kumar and MLAs Maganti Gopinath, Arekapudi Gandhi and Puvvada Ajay Kumar.
KCR called on Venkateswara, who had represented Dichipally Assembly constituency in Nizamabad district for over two decades before the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh, at his residence in Hyderabad. The senior leader was also a minister in the then TDP government led by Chandrababu Naidu, and had worked with KCR closely at the time.
The move by the TRS chief raises eyebrows as the party is presently facing trouble as close to 200 turmeric and red jowar farmers have filed their nomination for the Nizamabad Lok Sabha seat, from where KCR's daughter and senior TRS leader Kalvakuntla Kavitha is contesting.
The TRS hopes that if Venkateswara joins the party, it would be a major boost for the party in Nizamabad and may allow them to sail through to a smooth victory.
Since February, farmers in Nizamabad district have been fighting against the state government to classify turmeric as a food crop and to ensure a Minimum Support Price. The farmers claim that the market price is too low and that they are unable to get back their investment. The demand for setting up a National Turmeric Board is also a long-standing one in the region.
While Kavitha has repeatedly lobbied in Parliament, moved a private member bill and even met Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the demand for the Turmeric Board, it did not materialise. The TRS therefore, has accused the Centre of failing to fulfill its demands despite repeated requests.
Elections to 17 Lok Sabha seats in the state are scheduled for April 11.