Lok Sabha elections 2019: It’s Congress’s NYAY versus KCR’s Rythu Bandhu in Telangana
It is the Nyuntam Aay Yojana (Nyay) versus Rythu Bandhu in rural Telangana as the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) and the Congress bank on welfare schemes to outdo each other in the Lok Sabha elections.
Chief minister, K Chandrasekhar Rao, popularly known as KCR, launched the Rythu Bandhu scheme in May last year. Under the scheme, farmers get Rs 8,000 per acre annually or Rs 4,000 per acre per crop irrespective of their land holding. The Congress in March promised a guaranteed annual income of Rs 72,000 for India’s 20% poorest families under the Nyay scheme if the party returns to power.
The Rythu Bandhu has so far benefited around 60 lakh farmers, according to Telangana government officials. The TRS also gives over Rs 1 lakh to women when they get married under the Shadi Mubarak scheme. The TRS’s double bedroom scheme for poor are among other schemes that helped the TRS sweep to power again. The TRS won 88 of the 119 seats in the assembly elections in December last year. It hopes to replicate its success in the national polls, which will be held in Telangana in the first phase of the six-phase polls on April 11.
Congress chief, Rahul Gandhi, has described Nyay as a “final assault on poverty” while his party has billed it as a game changer as it seeks to make unemployment and agrarian distress its key poll planks.
The announcement of the scheme appears to have made an impact. Shankar, a resident of Mahbubnagar district’s Chitteboinapally village who uses one name, said Nyay is different from Rythu Bandhu, which is only for landholding farmers. “Now, people like me will be getting a substantial amount monthly…,” added Shankar, who works as a farm labourer.
Sathish, a labourer from Polepally in the same district, echoed Shankar and said local Congress leaders have explained the proposal to him. “If I am earning Rs 7,000 monthly, I will get an additional Rs 5,000 to take my income to Rs 12,000 monthly. This is a good scheme.”
The Congress is hoping Nyay will help it to overcome the assembly election loss and the defection of its nine out of 19 lawmakers to the TRS, according to the party leaders. It appears to be an uphill task as the TRS remains entrenched.
“There is no competition,” said Devendra, a Rythu Bandhu beneficiary from Chengomul village in Chevella. He added Congress poses no challenge to the TRS.
“No chance,’’ Devendra replied when asked about the chances of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) that managed to get just one seat in the assembly elections and 7.1% vote share. “[Prime Minister Narendra] Modi had promised Rs 15 lakh in each bank account in 2014. Where is that money?” He was referring to a speech which Modi made in the run-up to the 2014 elections as the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate. In the speech, Modi said every poor household may get Rs 15 lakh if the black money stashed abroad is brought back.
The Congress is hoping to put up a good fight in at least seven of the 17 Lok Sabha seats in Telangana, according to people aware of the thinking within the party.
Former TRS Lok Sabha member, Konda Vishweshwar Reddy, is the Congress’s nominee from Chevella and Revanth Reddy from Malkajgiri. Ex-union minister, Renuka Chowdary, is contesting from Khammam, Telangana Congress president, N Uttam Kumar Reddy, from Nalgonda, former Lok Sabha member, Ponnam Prabhakar, from Karimnagar and Anjan Kumar Yadav from Secunderabad.
“On these seats, the Congress candidates are contesting mainly on their own strength,” said Hyderabad-based political analyst, C Narasimha Rao.
Telangana Congress spokesman, Syed Nizamuddin, maintained they are well prepared and will win a majority of the seats. He accused the TRS of resorting to unethical politics of defections and said the people “will teach them a lesson”.
The BJP, which had one member, Bandaru Dattatreya, in the last Lok Sabha from Telangana, may have failed to save its deposits in 103 out of 119 constituencies in assembly elections, but it is banking on Modi’s work to improve its performance.
“We are hopeful voters in Telangana, as in other states, where we do not have organisational strength, will vote for us solely on the basis of the Prime Minister’s performance,” Telangana BJP spokesman, Krishna Sagar Rao, said. The Congress is also struggling to fund its candidates amid a lack of adequate financial resources, according to people aware of the developments. This has put it in a disadvantageous situation vis-à-vis two cash-rich parties, TRS and BJP.
The TRS, too, has challenges of its own. In Nizamabad, TRS candidate and KCR’s daughter, K Kavitha, is up against 189 candidates. Out of them, 178 are farmers who cultivate turmeric and red jowar and are seeking remunerative prices for their crops.
TRS working president, KT Rama Rao, also known as KTR, is confident of winning the 16 seats it is contesting along with the lone seat ally All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul-Muslimeen’s chief, Asaduddin Owaisi, is seeking his fourth term from.
“Telangana’s people have rejected both the Congress and BJP in assembly elections and these two parties will again bite the dust,” KTR said.
But political analyst Rao has a different view. “Lok Sabha elections nationally are by and large a fight between the Congress and BJP. In Telangana, it is Congress versus TRS and people will vote accordingly. So, I do not see any reason why Congress would not improve its position.”
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After the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) landslide victory, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is in his Lok Sabha constituency of Varanasi on a thanksgiving visit on Monday.He marked his visit by offering prayers at the Kashi Vishwanath temple before heading to address party workers.Modi won the Varanasi parliamentary seat by a margin 4,79,505 votes, defeating his nearest rival Shalini Yadav of the Samajwadi Party.Follow highlights here: