The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Faithfuls snap at early poll ploy

Hyderabad, Nov. 25: The ruling Telugu Desam Party’s decision to go for snap polls appears to be backfiring among its own workers, with party and independent surveys predicting a “hung Assembly”.

The workers are at loggerheads with the leadership over both the poll plank of extremism and the poll decision, taken by chief minister . Chandrababu Naidu, ostensibly to ride home to power on the “sympathy wave” generated by a recent Naxalite attack on him.

The discontent has been fuelled by the three surveys conducted by the party, the government and an independent agency, which paint the Desam as only the single largest party.

“The Desam survey gave the party nearly 190 seats, but an independent survey gave Chandrababu Naidu only 150 seats,” a senior official at the secretariat said. The Assembly has 295 seats, including one nominated.

Party meetings in the districts called to distribute vivarana patram (snap-poll explanation letter) have virtually collapsed in chaos, with workers getting into fisticuffs and using chappals as missiles.

The meeting in Adilabad district was disrupted when supporters of local MP S. Venugopalachari and state minister P. Bhumanna raised slogans against each other’s leaders. Party observers had to flee as they had come to anoint Venugopalachari, a former Union minister, the convener of the district selection committee for the polls.

At Ramayanpet in Medak district, party observer Rajeswar Rao was virtually surrounded by local workers who felt the Assembly dissolution and the anti-extremism plank were bad decisions.

They also prevented the main speakers from Hyderabad from delivering their speeches. Later, fisticuffs ensued, with shirts being ripped and chappals being thrown around.

Local Desam legislator and minister . Anjaneyulu was denounced by the workers at the meeting at Yellareddy in Nizamabad district. They accused him of nepotism and told the party observers they were opposed to the minister’s renomination and threatened to resign en masse.

The Desam campaign against both extremism and the Congress, however, has continued and appeared to turn desperate with the chief minister blaming the main Opposition party of colluding with the PWG to eliminate his party leaders.

The Congress’ Y.S. Rajasekhar Reddy retorted: “It was the TDP that gave guns to the Naxalites, not the Congress.”

While the parties pummel each other, the PWG is hunting for “double agents” among its ranks. “Our losses in the last six months were mostly due to these covert operators planted by the police. We will avenge the deaths of nearly 35 activists due to leaks by these covert operators,” Ramakrishna, a senior member of the PWG in north Telengana, said. The Naxalite outfit has killed four “double agents”.

The campaigning in the districts is yet to gather steam as all political parties are waiting for Id to get over.

But people appeared unenthusiastic and uninterested at the prospect of the coming polls. “We are tired of these polls and campaigns that only provoke political hostilities and stop ongoing development work in the districts,” said Prabhavati, a school teacher in Medak town.

“We should elect our leaders through a less expensive and a less cumbersome procedure,” she said.

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