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regular-article-logo Saturday, 15 June 2024

Scurry to protect turf in 'Mini India' Malkajgiri, largest Lok Sabha constituency with 32 lakh voters   

Population diversity began since British era when a large number of Tamils migrated to work on railway projects, centre of defence forces, comprising the Secunderabad cantonment, a large number of armed forces personnel eventually made Malkajgiri their home

K.M. Rakesh Hyderabad Published 10.05.24, 06:03 AM
BJP’s Etala Rajender (centre), who lost the November-December Assembly polls in Telangana, is trying his luck again from Malkajgiri Lok Sabha constituency

BJP’s Etala Rajender (centre), who lost the November-December Assembly polls in Telangana, is trying his luck again from Malkajgiri Lok Sabha constituency

The ethereal voices of SP Balasubramaniam, S. Janaki, KJ Yesudas, Hemant Kumar and Kishore Kumar blend into a symphony that brings out both the diversity and oneness in this ‘Mini India’ just about 15km from the Telangana capital.

The music from yesteryears from such a diverse population that speaks Telugu, Tamil, Kannada, Malayalam, Hindi, Bengali and Odiya is something Malkajgiri boasts of, apart from being the largest Lok Sabha constituency with 32 lakh voters.

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The population diversity began since the British era when a large number of Tamils migrated to work on railway projects. A centre of defence forces, comprising the Secunderabad cantonment, a large number of armed forces personnel eventually made Malkajgiri their home.

Public sector units such as Bharat Electronics Limited and Electronics Corporation of India Limited — that make electronic voting machines or EVMs — eventually became a magnet for job-seekers from Kerala, Karnataka and other states.

Their 2019 representative, A. Revanth Reddy, went on to become the chief minister in December last year after leading the Congress to a credible win.

The Congress has this time fielded Sunitha Mahender Reddy, who quit the Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) in February, while the BJP has given yet another chance to Etala Rajender who lost in the state elections just five months ago. Their BRS rival is Ragidi Lakshma Reddy, a true blue local.

This is where the script gets murky for the chief minister, who is also the state Congress president.

The BRS won all seven Assembly seats in the Malkajgiri Lok Sabha segment, although the party lost that election. While there’s no denying that BRS has been in a tailspin with the defection of hordes of leaders, the larger question thickening the Malkajgiri air is who would get the BRS votes.

A former health minister, who quit the BRS (then Telangana Rashtra Samithi) over serious differences with then chief minister K. Chandrashekar Rao in June 2021, Rajender is eyeing a political resurrection.

Chief minister Revanth Reddy has promised a Metro rail among a slew of infrastructure projects for his former constituency that he must win for prestige and party. “What has Etala Rajender done for Malkajgiri?” he asked during a road show in the constituency.

“Winning from Malkajgiri made me chief minister,” he said, alluding to his own political resurrection in 2019.

But N. Ramachander Rao, BJP’s national executive member and president of its Hyderabad unit, has little doubt the party is well primed for success. Rao had finished third behind Marri Rajashekar Reddy (BRS) in 2019, when Revanth won by a narrow margin of 10,919 votes.

“The BJP is on the upswi­ng, the Modi wave is real and the Congress and BRS candidates are weak,” he told The Telegraph. “The ground situation was different in 2019 when most of the roughly 8 lakh Andhra voters suppo­rted the Congress. But the mood has changed with Modi and (Ram) Mandir being key factors that will help the BJP,” said a confident Rao.

“The TINA (there is no alternative) factor, a weakened BRS whose workers and leaders are joining us en masse, the abrogation of Article 370, and even the fact that the Covaxin was made right in this constituency (where Bharat Biotech is located) are all supporting our cause,” added Rao, who took time off a meeting of local leaders at the Celebrity Resort, some 25km from the city, to talk to this newspaper.

He is confident that the BJP will eventually take BRS’s place in Telangana. “We will be filling BRS’s space and also capture some Congress space in Malkajgiri, (in nearby) Chevalla and Mahbubnagar,” he added.

BT Srinivasan, a resident of Malkajgiri and general secretary of the United Federation of Resident Welfare Associations, which has been battling to address civic and infrastructural issues facing the constituency, sees Rajender as the better option this time. “The people had supported Revanth Reddy in 2019. But I doubt they will repeat it this time,” civic activist Srinivasan told this newspaper. “This is a Mini India in every sense. But I think, this time Malkajgiri is backing Etala (Rajender).”

Malkajgiri votes on May 13

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