BANSWADA: Ahead of the October13 byelection, the people of this town may be busy with farm operations but support for the so-called Telangana ‘sentiment’ remains unshakeably firm.
The Ganesh pandals dotting the constituency play Telangana songs, where they once used to play devotional songs from Bollywood.
Talk among the young people gathered at the pandals turns to the forthcoming movie by R Narayna Murthy titled Poru Telangana.
At a Ganesh pandal in Nasrullabad in Beerkur mandal, one young man exulted, “The movie is sure to kick up the dust.
Dummu leshi potadi.
Settlers can’t sit on the fence any more.” However, there is little interest in the byelection itself.
Voters feel it is just a minor event in the overall Telangana narrative.
The result is not in doubt; therefore its impact is not of importance.
Says businessman Trimurti Kashinath, “The byelection will have no bearing on the Telangana movement.
We want Telangana.
It does not matter who will win the byelection.” It makes little difference to voters that the likely candidates of the three main parties -- the TRS, TDP and Congress -- have all declared support for the ideal of Telangana, but the dividend is likely to go to the pink party again.
Says Shaik Muzaffar, a flower merchant, “We can achieve Telangana only if we support the TRS now.
We think the TRS is Telangana, and Telangana is TRS.’’
Pocharam Prepares to Take On Former Friends
While Congress and TDP leaders here are punch-drunk from the reverses of the recent past, the TRS’ Pocharam Srinivas Reddy has already got off the blocks for the byelection.
Pocharam’s friends have been slapping him on the back and telling him not to worry for victory is assured.
But the former minister is not one to take chances.
Banswada was his seat in the 2009 election, which he won on a TDP ticket.
He quit the party in March and proceeded to show his Telangana credentials by also quitting the Assembly.
Since his resignation, he has been attending local marriages, Ganesh pujas and temple rituals.
He stepped up his donations to temples and prepared plans for the election campaign.
Despite the wind being in his favour, Pocharam says he will bring in the Telangana heavy artillery to canvass for him: all the big TRS leaders including K Chandrasekhar Rao and all the TJAC leaders as well.
Telangana student and advocate groups have promised to come here in his support.
Pocharam has been in politics since 1975.
He played a key role in the formation of the TDP in 1983 and was elected from Banswada in 1994, 1999, 2009.
Chandrababu Naidu made him a minister in the 199-2004 government but the YSR wave in the 2004 elections swept him away.
Pocharam Srinivas Reddy says this byelection is an opportunity to drive home the point that the TRS is the only political force that can achieve a Telangana state.
“When I was a child of three months my house was attacked by the Razakars.
An old tribal woman saved my life.
I’m inspired by what she did for me.
I want to fight for Telangana to fulfil the aspirations of the suppressed classes.” Pocharam says he is confident of victory in the byelection but is wary of bitter attacks from the party he ditched, the TDP.
Congress: Listless in Limbo
The Congress camp here is listless with most of their leaders busy in Hyderabad waiting for the party leadership to take a decision whether or not it will contest the election at all.
Indications are that the party will enter the fray, not with any hope of winning but in an attempt to maintain its cadres in the constituency.
Local Congress circles say that if the party does contest the election, then a local leader should be given the ticket.
However, the District Congress Committee and all local leaders of the party are against contesting in the elections.
However, some of the Congress leaders expect that the party will pour resources here in case it decides to enter the fray, and there may be a windfall for all.
TDP: Two-Eyed, Two-Minded
The TDP too has not made up its mind whether to contest the election or not.
Banswada had been a bastion of the TDP since the NTR wave of 1983 barring the defeat of Pocharam in 2004.
Local TDP leaders say the party still has a residual vote bank here.
Several TDP leaders here see Pocharam as a renegade who ditched the party in a crisis, and want to do their best to do as much damage to him as they can.
Settlers: Squarely in the T Camp
Banswada is home to some 28,000 settlers from coastal Andhra many of whom migrated here even before the state of Andhra Pradesh was formed in 1956.
They are a distinct voting group in Banswada, and their villages are still called camps.
They have traditionally been TDP voters.
The settler villages are situated mostly in Kotagri, Beerkur and Varni Mandals.
Many of the ‘camps’ have better civic conditions than elsewhere.
Due to the exigencies of the situation, many of the settlers openly support the Telangana demand.
Says Garlapati Satyanarayana of SN Puram village in Varni mandal, “All of us settlers are in favour of Telangana.
We will prove our loyalty to the movement in this byelection by voting for the TRS.”