The prestige of three prominent Andhra Pradesh leaders is at stake in the Karimnagar Lok Sabha byelection, the date for which is yet to be announced by the Election Commission.
They are: Teleganana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) chief K Chandrashekhara Rao who decided to seek a fresh mandate after quitting the Lok Sabha and the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) in September on the issue of a separate Telengana state; Chief Minister YS Rajashekhara Reddy (YSR) who believes that the people of the region are looking for development and not statehood; and Telugu Desam Party (TDP) leader Chandrababu Naidu who has consistently supported the idea of a united Andhra.
On Thursday, the Congress handpicked T Jeevan Reddy, a senior legislator who hails from the area, to take on Rao and the TDP's Ramana, a former MP and a backward leader in Karimnagar. There will be quadrangular contest if the BJP also puts up a candidate.
Since the TRS leader has projected the electoral battle as a referendum on the Telengana issue, both YSR and Naidu stand to lose face if he gets re-elected.
In fact, ever since the relations between the Congress and the TRS began to sour, the chief minister has focussed his attention on the development of the region.
And now, he has entrusted the management of the Karimnagar campaign to his advisor Ram Chandra Rao.
Congress leaders also claim that the TRS could get 26 legislators and five MPs elected because of their support to the regional party.
Besides the politics of statehood, the caste profile of the constituency is also expected to play a role in the byelection. While the Vellama community Rao belongs to comprises only 4 per cent of Karimnagar's 13 lakh population, the Reddys constitute 12 per cent.
The dominant caste are the backwards to which the TDP candidate belongs.