Bhongir in Yadadri Bhuvanagiri district (old Nalgonda) has a historic setting rooted in the idealism of a bygone era but it now hosts an election contest that mirrors the realities of new-age politics, driven by resourceful candidates in pursuit of state power.

Bhongir also has been a landmark in the long history of agitation and struggle in the erstwhile united Andhra Pradesh state for creating a new Telangana state. Much before K Chandrashekhar Rao and his TRS (now BRS) came to be identified as the harbingers of Telangana state, it was here way back in 1996, when the now defunct Telangana Jana Sabha, enjoying the patronage of the Maoists and other activists, passed the ‘Bhongir Telangana Declaration’, de manding a separate state.

Once the hotbed of Maoism and the People’s War Group, Bhongir has seen many mobilisations as well as many bloody encounters and murders including that of Belli Lalitha, the revolutionary folk singer. Former state home minister A Madhav Reddy, who represented the constituency, was killed when his car was blown up in a suspected Maoist landmine blast.

The Maoist movement has lost its firepower here and most of Telangana. The pockets of influence the CPI and the CPI-M once enjoyed here too have considerably waned. Cut to the present, the electoral contest here is a repeat clash between two candidates, the politicians known for their wealth and business interests — BRS MLA P Shekhara Reddy and Congress candidate K Anil Kumar Reddy. In 2018, Shekhara Reddy defeated Anil Kumar Reddy.

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While MLA Reddy, who has recently faced I-T raids, is known for using his resources to maintain his constituency connect, the Congress candidate Reddy, a former DCC president, recently made news for a unique ‘revolving door act’. A few months ago, he quit the Congress and joined the BRS in the presence of KCR in Hyderabad only to quit his new party within weeks to return to Congress with PCC chief A Revanth Reddy offering the welcome-back garland. “It was an abrupt emotional decision to quit the Congress and join BRS. But my local supporters, my party leadership both in the PCC and in Delhi soon started asking me to return to the Congress and I did so because I am a Congressman. This election is a very big fight to oust the unpopular BRS government,” Reddy told ET. There were reports that his brief resignation act came when some other party leaders demanded the candidature of the seat.

As the campaign intensified in this seat, which the Congress has never won since 1985 as Bhongir remained loyal to TDP and BRS, Reddy showed his connections by getting Priyanka Gandhi Vadra to campaign for him. But the BRS camp is unfazed and says their MLA will make it with a bigger margin and said the local Congress unit is plagued by infighting.

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