Hyderabad: Even as the TRS is trying hard to contain political discussions and campaign narratives in a hyper-local election, and where a young Saidi Reddy is trying to ask people to give him his first opportunity to represent them, the Congress is sure that the politically-aware people of Huzurnagar will give a befitting reply to the “arrogance of the TRS and Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao’s “dictatorial tendencies”.
Huzurnagar has been a Congress stronghold for over 15 years now. Represented by TPCC election N. Uttam Kumar Reddy, who has never lost an election in his life, he is the biggest leader of the region, including the neighbouring Kodad, which once were a single constituency before delimitation. His wife, Ms N. Padmavathi Reddy, served as MLA in Kodad but lost in the December election. Like Mr Saidi Reddy, she gets an opportunity to reverse the previous defeat and enter the Assembly.
On her election trail, along with several senior Congress leaders, including Mr Uttam Kumar Reddy, Mr Mallu Bhatti Vikramarka, Mr T. Jeevan Reddy, Mr Ponnam Prabhakar, Dr Sravan Dosaju, Ms Padmavathi Reddy spoke to Deccan Chronicle about her chances of winning, the challenge of taking on a ruling party candidate and her views on what the byelection on October 21 holds.
Is this election between Saidi Reddy and Padmavathi Reddy or a larger fight between Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao and your husband Uttam Kumar Reddy?
Like all elections in India, there are several threads running across simultaneously. Both views have their basis of argument. Parties, leaders, people all get meshed up in any election, so this one is no different. But, for me, we are fighting to retain our seat as a party. Why the ruling party has to send over 700-odd leaders, misuse official machinery and power, distribute money and liquor, threaten and intimidate our workers, even common people to win? They should reply. Why are they afraid? They have lost a lot of their popularity since December; they lost eight seats out of 17 they contested even though we could only win three in the Lok Sabha elections. Why is the popularity of TRS falling so drastically, so dramatically, so quickly? Why does KCR fear Huzurnagar could be his waterloo? Ask him.
Your rival says Huzurnagar has not been developed by the Congress despite winning consecutive elections here. Is there a wave for change here?
It is a half-truth. Huzurnagar was developed by the Congress when, between 2004 and 2014, we ran the government in the state and at the Centre. People still remember both the development and welfare schemes of our era. But it is true that after TRS came to power, development has come to a standstill but that is not just here but across Telangana state. And is it not illegal, undemocractic and un-constitutional to say that only ruling candidate can help people. Is TRS saying they will stop the facilities due to them if the Congress wins? Is intimidation the only value they have to offer, and their only chance to win?
What are people being asked to vote for here?
When the TRS won the elections in December 2018, they disrespected the people. For two months, they did not even have a Cabinet. They only wanted to arm-twist or buy our MLAs; instead of giving a government. Why? Hubris. Arrogance. People will reject it. For Huzurnagar people, and people of Telangana state at large, self-respect is the most important thing. We will never let a dictator trample on our rights, on our dignity. No promise was kept and every stakeholder of the struggle was betrayed. The election is about giving KCR a strong reply. Hubris must meet is comeuppance.
If elected, what would you do?
I will get a world-class skills development centre, focussing on both job-oriented skills as well as sports, especially rural and traditional Indian sports like kabaddi. We will help youth get jobs, not just here or in Hyderabad but across the country and the world. I will continue to be with the people in all their struggles for their rights, their dignity and uphold their self-respect against every tyranny.
Do you see a special support amongst women for you?
Absolutely yes. It is true there is a certain additional traction amongst the women for a candidate of the same gender. They can share their problems better, talk together about things far more easily. The Congress will win a huge majority, with every section of society supporting us.