With poll campaign at its peak in Telangana, voters in K Chandrashekar Rao’s home turf seem to be divided between the talks of development by the ruling party and Opposition’s allegations of an “unreachable” chief minister.
Popularly known as KCR, Mr Rao is seeking re-election from Gajwel in Siddipet district – a seat he won with a margin of nearly 20,000 votes in 2014.
While KCR’s supporters talk about the developmental programmes carried by his government, many others in the constituency allege the chief minister does not spend “enough time” in his constituency.
“Development is clearly visible. We have got better roads, regular power supply and more importantly tap water in each house. A lot has been done under the KCR rule. The only minus point is our leader is inaccessible to people,” said a guava seller in Pragnapur.
A Vinay, an under-graduate Commerce student in the newly-build kindergarten to post-graduate government campus, said KCR’s Congress rival had much more presence in the constituency.
“Our chief minister does not meet us and we feel a distance is growing despite some good work,” he added.
At the same time, Ganesh Lagishetty, a tea seller on the Gajwel-Pragnapur road, argued it does not matter whether the chief minister is in the area or not.
“What matters is development and that is happening,” he said.
Earlier, water was supplied through tankers and now each house has got tap water facility, while overall infrastructure in the area has improved, he added.
A section of Muslim community also appeared happy with the welfare schemes, especially a hike in the government remuneration to ‘imams’ in mosques, but some are upset over non-implementation of 12 per cent reservation to minorities.
“Many ‘imams’ are poor and don’t have own house to live and have no other source of income. It is a big relief that the TRS government has raised our salary from Rs 1,000 to Rs 5,000,” said Mohammud Kumail Ashraf, an imam in one of the biggest mosques in the constituency.
B Ashok, a political science lecturer in a private college, said youth are disappointed as the TRS government did not provide jobs promised in 2014 polls.
KCR and his party members are heavily relying on the development work and welfare projects undertaken by the government.
In Gajwel, KCR is up against Vanteru Pratap Reddy, a local strongman who has defected to the Congress from the TDP and has been campaigning ever since the Assembly was dissolved on September 6, months before he was announced as a candidate.
Akula Vijaya from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and S Srinivas from the Bahujan Left Front (BLF) are also in the fray.
KCR’s campaign in the constituency is being managed by his nephew and one of his most trusted confidantes T Harish Rao, who was also irrigation minister in the last government.