After trouncing the Congress, TDP and BJP in the 2018 state elections, the ruling TRS in Telangana is now eyeing a sweep in the upcoming Lok Sabha polls. While the TRS had comfortably won the Assembly elections, bagging 88 out of the 119 seats, the party couldn’t penetrate Khammam district, a region bordering neighbouring Andhra Pradesh.

However, the party led by Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao is now determined to breach the region by fielding one of India’s richest politicians and former TDP MP Nama Nageswara Rao in the Khammam Lok Sabha constituency. Nageswara Rao, who resigned from the TDP on March 19, had defected to the ruling party just hours before TRS’ list was officially announced on Thursday.

Khammam district has traditionally been a Left citadel due to the dominant presence of Adivasis. The region also has a strong presence of Kammas, a forward caste community that has traditionally voted for the TDP. These demographic conditions made it challenging for the TRS, which came to power on the plank of ‘separate statehood’ for Telangana.

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The cause of a separate state never resonated in this region because the Left parties and the Kamma community opposed Telangana state formation. The Khammam Lok Sabha constituency has seen the Congress come to power the most number of times, while the CPI, CPI(M) and the TDP have also won the seat once each. In the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, Ponguleti Srinivas Rao of the YSRCP was elected as Khammam MP but he later defected to the TRS. Srinivas was, however, denied a TRS ticket this time.

In the 2018 Telangana Assembly elections, the TRS could win only one out of the 10 seats from Khammam district. TRS, however, managed to bag the Khammam Assembly constituency, where its candidate Ajay Kumar Puvvada, who is the son of former MLA and CPI veteran Puvvada Nageswara Rao, defeated Nama Nageswara Rao, who was then with the TDP, by a margin of 10,991 votes.

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Determined to win the Khammam Lok Sabha seat, the TRS has been attempting to rope in local leaders and legislators from opposition parties into their camp. Despite losing in 2018, Nama Nageswara Rao, who was a TDP Parliamentarian from 2009 to 2014, has been offered the Khammam Lok Sabha seat by the TRS with the aim to conquer this constituency in 2019.

Nageswara Rao is an industrialist and one of the richest politicians in India. In the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, Rao had declared that he had Rs 338 crore worth of assets.

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According to analysts, by giving Nama Nageswara Rao the ticket, the TRS has improved its prospects to win the Lok Sabha seat. “It is not just the factor of Nama Nageswara Rao, several others factors like local leaders joining the TRS has also strengthened the party,” says Prof K Nageshwar Rao.

While the Congress has announced 16 MP candidates so far, it is yet to announce the Khammam candidate. Similarly, the BJP is yet to announce candidates for Adilabad, Chevella, Hyderabad, Khammam, Medak, Pedapalli and Zahirabad constituencies.

Elections to the 17 Lok Sabha seats in Telangana will be conducted in a single phase on April 11. #KhabarLive