The Telegraph
Sunday , April 27 , 2014
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Daughter and bahu set for debut

For a debutante, Kalvakunta Kavitha packs a double.

Daughter and bahu. So what if the voter stats are a bit daunting?

Kavitha, daughter of Telangana spearhead K. Chandrasekhar Rao, is the TRS candidate for Nizamabad, a parliamentary seat in Telangana. But most of the voters in her constituency are originally from Seemandhra, a region that belongs to the other side of the Andhra divide.

This is the region the residual Andhra Pradesh will be left with after a new Telangana state comes into existence on June 2.

The 35-year-old, contesting her first election, shrugs off the unavoidable statistic. “So what they are settlers?” she says. “They have been here for two generations and have worked for wealth-generation in Telangana.”

The settlers, most of them turmeric and sugarcane farmers, have brought riches and innovation to farming in the arid region.

Outreach over, it’s time to appeal to sentiments. “I am the bahu (daughter-in-law) of Nizamabad,” says the former student of Stanley High School, Hyderabad.

Kavitha’s husband Anil, a mechanical engineer, is from the Bodhan Assembly segment, a part of the Nizamabad parliamentary constituency that votes on April 30. The couple have two sons.

Dressed in a sari, a bindi on her forehead, Kavitha has been a hit with rural women. But her opponents are no pushovers. Kavitha faces sitting Congress MP Madhu Yaski Goud, a two-time winner, and local BJP MLA Y. Lakshminarayana, who has been fielded by the Telugu Desam Party-BJP combine.

She is ready for the battle. “Politics is in my blood and veins. I have participated and campaigned for my father and brother (MLA K.T. Rama Rao). Now both will help me out,” she says, adding: “I have never been a loser.”

Her father, Telangana Rashtra Samiti chief Rao, also exudes confidence. “I will make my daughter a Union minister, whichever be the front in power,” he says.

As head of Telangana Jagriti, the cultural wing of the TRS, Kavitha had hit out at Telugu films produced by the Seemandhra lobby. In January 2010, she had launched a bitter campaign against Adhurs (Tremors), a film that starred NTR Junior, the grandson of NTR, and clocked Rs 41 crore in its 100-day run. “It is a film made by anti-Telangana people who will use the same money against the formation of a Telangana state,” she had said.

Kavitha, who did her BTech from a neighbourhood engineering college and her master’s from the University of Southern Mississippi, had plunged into the Telangana movement after returning from America in 2004. But her father didn’t allow her to contest the elections in 2009. He asked Kavitha to first establish herself in life.

Kavitha launched a chain of beauty salons in Dilsukhnagar, Sanikpuri and Himayatnagar. The salons now do roaring business and most of her clients are non-Telanganaites.

After Rao decided to go on an indefinite fast for a Telangana state, Kavitha plunged into politics full time. That was in November 2009.

In April 2010, she was at the forefront of the Million March protest, when pro-Telangana activists tried to take out a procession but were blocked, though they succeeded in damaging a few statues of Seemandhra leaders on the Tank bund, a reservoir across Husseinsagar lake in the heart of Hyderabad.

She has also championed the Brathukamma festival, a mirror of the Telangana region. “Kavitha danced to the festival rhythms with other women on the streets of Hyderabad,” says her brother Rama Rao.