Caste card plays crucial factor in Parkal byelection

PARKAL: Even as government chief whip Gandra Venkata Ramana Reddy is annoyed over the selection of TDP leader Sambari Samma Rao as Congress nominee for the Parkal assembly constituency ignoring his wife Gandra Jyothi’s candidature, the million dollar question doing the rounds here is whether it’s Telangana sentiment or strong caste equation that would play a crucial role in the bypolls.

Though all the major parties have decided to play the BC card in a big way in the elections, former MLA Konda Surekha is going out of her way to position herself as the only champion of BC communities in the constituency. Though Reddy leaders call the shots in the constituency, Parkal has a sizeable presence of BCs such as Padmashalis, Munnuru Kapus, Gouds, Mudirajs and others. While TDP has named a Reddy candidate and TRS is likely to follow suit, other parties such as Congress, YSR Congress and BJP have plumped for BC candidates.

With Padmashalis, Munnuru Kapus and other BCs alone constituting 87,000 of the total 1.81 lakh electorate, two ministers and two MPs of the ruling party spared no efforts to convince the high command to field Samma Rao, a Munnuru Kapu, much to the chagrin of Gandra Jyothi, who was a strong aspirant for the ticket. Surekha, a Padmashali, and her husband Konda Murali, a Munnuru Kapu, are banking on the BC votes and believe this vote bank is enough to pull them through. There is also a strong SC vote base of 68,000 which the parties are eyeing.

The BJP, which is buoyant after the Mahbubnagar victory, is planning to field disgruntled TRS leader Mulugu Bhikshapati, a BC, to take on Surekha and Samma Rao. Surekha had won with a 12,754-vote majority on the Congress ticket in 2009 elections by defeating ‘Mahakutami’ candidate Bhikshapati. “Being a former ZP VC Bhikshapati has a good support in the constituency and BJP is out to cash in on him,” a political analyst pointed out. Sources said if the plan to field Bhikshapati did not work out, BJP may go in for senior leader and former MP Ch Janga Reddy.

Surprisingly, TRS, which is keeping every party guessing, could reserve the seat for district party convenor Peddi Sudarshan Reddy though the party cadres want the ticket to be given to Bhikshapati. TDP has already announced Challa Dharma Reddy as its candidate. In fact, it’s TDP that contested the polls here in 1999.

Parkal, then Shayampet, consists of Parkal, Atmakur, Geesukonda and Sangem mandals. “The women voters (90,662) could decide the fate of the candidates. The Telangana issue is not a dominant factor here,” political analyst Immadi Sailu explained.