Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhara Rao’s surprise, if not last-minute decision to field former Prime Minister PV Narasimha Rao’s daughter Vani Devi as a Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) candidate for the Member of Legislative Council (MLC) polls is being considered a “masterstroke” to checkmate the surging BJP in the state.
Vani Devi is being fielded as an official party nominee for MLC in the graduate’s constituency.
Soft-spoken Vani Devi has carved out a niche for herself as a well-established educationist in the state. Though many expected she would be nominated in the Governor’s quota, it did not happen, reasons best known to the chief minister. Many a political analyst feels that KCR’s decision to field the former Prime Minister’s daughter is a timely move to checkmate the BJP. In fact, the BP is riding high on its resounding Dubbaka Assembly bypoll victory not so long ago, looks more than confident to retain the seat. Its candidate, N Ramachandra Rao, won the last polls with much ease.
In the last elections held in 2015, Ramchandra Rao won the MLC polls by a margin of 13,318 votes. While Ramchandra Rao secured 53,881 votes, Devi Prasad got 40,563 votes. The Congress candidate, Agiru Ravikumar Gupta, got a meagre 2,856 votes although he stood third among a total of 31 candidates who were in the fray.
The BJP nominee Ramchander Rao is a practising advocate and enjoys considerable clout among graduate constituents of the three Telangana districts – Hyderabad, Rangareddy and Mahabubnagar. Interestingly, the Congress, though suffering humiliation in Dubbaka bypoll as its candidate finished a poor third, would not like to leave any stone unturned and fielded a veteran and former minister G Chinna Reddy. Not to lag behind, the Telugu Desam, which fared very badly in the recent panchayat polls at the hands of YSRCP in Andhra Pradesh, too fielded its old war-horse LV Ramana. Thus far, this particular MLC seat contest becomes interesting.
The ruling TRS, which is struggling to face challenge posed by a surging BJP, appears more than determined to snatch the seat from them this time around. A senior BJP leader on condition of anonymity admits that his party has worked hard to retain the seat as this time around. “We are genuinely worried over the Brahmin votes which might split between our candidate and the TRS nominee,” said the BJP leader.
An analysis also indicates that it is no “cake walk” for the BJP considering the TRS candidate’s stature. She is no ordinary person. A renowned educationist, Vani Devi set up the first music college in the state of Telangana and later a fine arts college. An added advantage is the fact that she is the daughter of the “pride of Telangana”, PV Narasimha Rao, who as Prime Minister, had turned around the sagging Indian economy through his path-breaking reforms.
Her late father, being a Nehru-Gandhi and Congress loyalist till his last breath, many a Congressman in the state cannot dare to discredit his contributions to the undivided state as chief minister and later as Prime Minister of the country. That being the case none can rule out major chunk of Congress supporters backing the candidature of Vani Devi, though she is being nominated by the ruling TRS party. So is the case with the BJP as its loyalists too cannot gloss over PV’s contributions to the state and Centre. PVNR was first chief minister of a state to implement land reforms in the country.
Many political analysts feel Vani Devi has an edge not only for being daughter of PVNR, but also the support of the state chief minister K Chandrasekhara Rao that she enjoys. His image is that of a mass leader, who single handedly fought for separate statehood. This double bonanza – PVNR’s pride as economic reformist and son of the soil, besides the Chief Minister KCR’s personal aura – should help Vani Devi scrape through and cause a serious blow to the pumped-up the BJP’s objective to grab power in the state, which it firmly believes will become a reality in the 2023 polls.
The chief minister, who would not like to leave any stone unturned, has asked his party men, especially those hailing from these three districts not to be complacent and go all out to enlighten the people how this government has fulfilled its electoral promises – providing employment to 1.3 lakh unemployed youth in government services and another 2.11 lakh jobs created in the IT sector during the last 5-6 years.
If the BJP’s applecart gets upset with TRS candidate Vani Devi’s victory, then it should help rejuvenate the party cadres to work with more enthusiasm and confidence to take on the Opposition in the upcoming Nagarjunasagar Assembly bypoll as well other polls to the municipal corporation in Warangal and Khammam, that are to follow in the coming months.