Hyderabad: The electorate of Zaheerabad Assembly constituency has voted for the Congress party consistently since 1957, with one hiccup in 1994 when the Telugu Desam sneaked in. It looks like it will remain a faithful Congress bastion this time too. Most people you speak to say local MLA and former minister Dr J. Geeta Reddy has done a lot for the area in the past five years and set into motion many development projects.
Older voters recall the tenure of former state minority affairs minister Mohammed Fareeduddin, the Congress MLA from Zaheerabad for 10 years till 2009, when he was shifted to Amberpet and Dr Geeta Reddy replaced him. He lost to BJP state president G. Kishan Reddy in 2009, and some people blame Dr Geetha Reddy for it, though others say there is no such hostility and the voter base is solidly behind the Congress.
“Dr Geetha Reddy has been the MLA here for five years. But people were angry when, in December 2013, she told senior Muslim party leaders from here to forget the Babri Masjid demolition and move on.
They knew that such a statement would never have been made by Fareeduddin saab. So she is yet to command respect among Muslim voters,” says Ishak Gori, who runs a business in the area.
“Fareeduddin also had a friendlier and warmer approach. He was a lot more accessible,” adds Naeem, another local. He is, however, is quick to add that, nevertheless, the people of Zaheerabad have been Congress loyalists for years now.
“M. Baga Reddy was the Congress MLA for seven terms. Geetha Reddy may have a different style, but she has nurtured this area and people will blindly vote for her to return.”
Sources in the Congress note that Mr Fareeduddin has only been adding to Geetha Reddy’s headache by working against party interests. He has allegedly told his supporters to refrain from voting for the sitting MLA and direct their votes to any other candidate, irrespective of their party.
Rejecting the notion that Mr Fareeduddin’s supporters may still harbour hard feelings, Dr Geetha Reddy says,“This is negative talk. People who have been Congress supporters will always remain so. I am sure of the unflinching support of the people. The town is very secular and people support the party irrespective of their caste or religion or allegiance to a particular leader.”
Daughter goes all out for mom
If Zaheerabad Congress MLA Dr J. Geetha Reddy is involved in hectic campaigning and road rallies in her home constituency, her 28-year-old daughter, Meghana, is doing her bit to ensure her mother becomes MLA for a second term.
Ms Meghana Reddy has been canvassing for her mother from day one and claims she has knocked on every door in the town to apprise its residents of the work done by their sitting MLA.
“There are 24 wards in this town and I have covered the 40,000 odd voters that comprise it. They’re being made aware about the development that has taken place during my mother’s term as well as the contrast in the state of affairs prior to her election in 2009. The response has been fantastic,” says an upbeat Ms Meghana Reddy, who works as a hospital administrator at the Geetha Multi Speciality Hospital and is contemplating joining the political bandwagon.
“We held a Navayuva Bharat Nirman programme, where we invited 18 colleges from the Assembly constituency. This included a two-kilometre run, which was a new concept in Zaheerabad,” she said.