Hyderabad: Chief Minister K. Chandrashekar Rao, known for his acumen in picking virtually unknown political leaders and turning them into strong prospects, selected a young foreign-returned face to contest in Huzurnagar in the December Assembly elections — Saidi Reddy. The young leader in his early forties, a Canadian citizen who forsook his flourishing businesses to return to his home district of Suryapet, Mr Saidi Reddy took on a mighty opponent, Telangana State Congress president and incumbent MLA N. Uttam Kumar Reddy, who was also projected as the Chief Ministerial candidate had the People’s Front won.
Despite losing the polls narrowly, Mr Saidi Reddy stayed in the constituency, mingling with the people and trying to solve their problems, with no election in sight for a period of five years. But he got another chance when Mr Uttam Kumar Reddy had to vacate Huzurnagar to retain his Lok Sabha seat, and that necessitated a byelection.
What marks his meteoric rise in the TRS is his dedicated work in reaching out and connecting with the people, trying to understand local problems and being a sincere person in the choppy waters of politics.
On his election trail, along with district minister in-charge, G. Jagadish Reddy, and Nalgonda Parliamentary constituency incharge Palla Rajeshwar Reddy, Mr Saidi Reddy spoke to Deccan Chronicle about his prospects, promises, challenges and hopes for the crucial byelection.
How do you sense the mood in the constituency? What does the byel-ection, coming within a year, mean to the people and what do they want?
People want development, and, because they have not seen any development during the repeated tenures of Uttam Kumar Reddy, they want change. The people are giving me a great and very positive response. The talk around here is give Saidi a chance; he is young, devoted, son of the soil.
Everybody talks of development as an abstract. What does it mean concretely in your area — say the top three issues?
Three top issues would be skills and jobs for youth, water and welfare schemes. We have a huge waterfront, spanning the Musi river and the Krishna river. We will ensure that every field and farmer gets water. Drinking water will come to every household because of KCR garu’s leadership. I will work to set up a world-class skill development centre. The love of people for our party continues because of our welfare schemes.
Are you concerned that issues like the RTC strike could derail your campaign — people are angry with the government, the party and the Chief Minister — and use this byelection to send a strong message?
Firstly, this is a byelection where local factors are alone being considered by the people. The anti-incumbency again-st Uttam Kumar Reddy has peaked. Last time, he won narrowly saying he could become the Chief Minister. Now, people want a change, development. They want a ruling party member to represent them.
Secondly, on the RTC strike, people know that everything that our leader KCR does is for the benefit of the people. He will save the RTC, make it stronger and fulfil all promises, leading to such happiness amongst people that he will lead us to a win in the next elections also.
How will a multi-cornered election, where the BJP and the TD are also contesting, impact your chances?
Indians would be fascinated to know that such is the political appeal and strength of KCR garu, that to fight the TRS, even the Congress and the BJP have come together. There is no scope for the TD or the BJP here, but they are tacitly supporting the Congress because they know we will win by a huge margin.
KCR said the last time had he given you the ticket earlier, you might have won. Is it true that people voted for Mr Uttam Kumar Reddy in the Lok Sabha polls to give you another chance?
I was working for the people even after losing, when no byelection was in sight. The Lok Sabha elections are over. My work will show and people will talk through their vote on October 21.