Emotions bubbled over the Telangana government’s Rs 2,000-crore aid for Dalits in Huzurabad assembly constituency where bypolls are due on August 16 and the political heavyweight is an influential turncoat of the ruling party. CM K. Chandrasekhar Rao announced the Dalit Bandhu (Friend of Dalits) package after friend-turned-foe Etala Rajender joined the BJP. He has been winning from Huzurabad since the TRS’s formation in 2009, drawing support from his Mudiraj community, which makes up around 15 per cent of the constituency’s 2.06 lakh electorate.
The TRS is targeting SCs and STs, comprising nearly 45 per cent of the electorate, with the Dalit Bandhu scheme, which promises Rs 10 lakh each to jobless SC/ST people to start a business of their choice. The ruling party claims it is a “historical social reform”, but the Opposition sees a bait to lure voters in the crucial bypoll that is likely to set the tone for the 2023 assembly elections. “We will not oppose such a wonderful scheme for our Dalit brothers and sisters. But it should not be restricted to Huzurabad. It should embrace the entire state to benefit 80,000-plus SC/ST families,” says Congress state president A. Revanth Reddy. Several MLAs threatened to resign and force bypolls if KCR fails to heed their demand.
By M.S. Shanker in Hyderabad