Peculiar case of Secunderabad Cantonment Assembly seat: Parties drag their feet on candidates

The by-election has been necessitated by the death of 37-year-old BRS MLA Lasya Nanditha in a car accident on 23 February near Hyderabad.

ByRaj Rayasam

Published Apr 04, 2024 | 9:00 AMUpdatedApr 04, 2024 | 9:00 AM

Lasya Nanditha with KCR

The three principal political parties in Telangana — Congress, BJP and BRS — are yet to take a call on their candidates for the by-election for the Secunderabad Cantonment Assembly seat.

The by-election has been necessitated following the untimely death of 37-year-old BRS MLA Lasya Nanditha in a car accident on 23 February near Hyderabad. Her car crashed into a road divider on the Nehru Outer Ring Road at Patancheru on the city outskirts.

She was elected to the state Assembly following the 30 November, 2023 elections. The seat was vacant from 13 February last year till the Assembly elections following the death of her father and five-time MLA G Sayanna.

She polled 59,057 votes defeating her nearest BJP rival N Sri Ganesh with a margin of 17,169 votes. Ganesh polled 41,888 votes. Congress nominee and daughter of balladeer Gadar GV Vennala finished third in the contest, polling 20,825 votes.

Also Read: No CAA, NRC in Telangana, asserts Minister Uttam Kumar Reddy

Nanditha’s sister expresses desire to contest

Winning the seat was not difficult for Nanditha as her father left a rich legacy. She leveraged the feel-good factor in favour of the BRS in Hyderabad on account of the rapid development that took place under the K Chandrashekar Rao-led dispensation.

Even after the notification of the by-election along with general elections, the parties have not made a last say about their candidates.

Secunderabad Cantonment Assembly segment would go to polls on 13 May along with other Lok Sabha constituencies in the state, in the fourth phase of the general elections.

After the schedule for the general elections and the by-election for Secunderabad was announced, Nanditha’s sister Niveditha expressed her desire to contest and made a plea to the BRS president K Chandrashekar Rao (KCR) to consider her candidature.

According to sources, the BRS is yet to take a call on whether to field her or go ahead with some other candidate.

Though it is not known what KCR is thinking about who the candidate should be, there are quite a few aspirants for the seat, should the party leadership look beyond Sayanna’s family for the seat.

Also Read: ‘KCR is like demonetised ₹1,000 note’: Telangana CM Revanth Reddy 

The BRS dilemma

The party seems to be assessing to what extent the sympathy factor would help Nivedita in winning the by-election if she is fielded.

Nanditha winning the election on 30 November was different as she leveraged her father’s legacy.

Nanditha did not have any time to earn a name for herself to help her sister, though their father’s death might still help Nivedita.

“For our party, it is a tricky decision. The leadership is examining which of the two options is better — sympathy or a fresh face,” a BRS leader told South First.

Among other aspirants, Manne Krishank is on the frontline. He is the most visible face of the party on social media after the top leaders of the party — KTR and T Harish Rao. He has been trying to persuade the party leadership to field him this time.

According to sources, Krishank, who was the Telangana Mineral Development Corporation chairman when the BRS was in power, is understood to have made his intention known to contest from the constituency to party working president KT Rama Rao.

Besides him, Errolla Srinivas, who was the chairman of the Medical Services Infrastructure Development Corporation, and Gajjela Nagesh, who was the Beverages Corporation chairman, are also eyeing the BRS ticket.

“The party has not taken any decision, as yet. It is finally KCR who has to spell out the beans,” one BRS leader said.

Also Read: KCR’s nephew arrested in case of trespass, attempt to murder

Congress to field turncoat

The runner-up in the 2023 Assembly election for Secunderabad Cantonment — BJP’s N Sri Ganesh — recently joined the Congress, giving nightmares to those who were pinning hopes on the Congress ticket.

After his entry, it has become more or less clear that he would be nominated for the seat.

Addanki Dayakar, who is a victim of circumstances in Congress, has been hoping that he might get the nomination for Secunderabad Cantonment but it now seems unlikely.

He had sacrificed Tungaturthy’s ticket in favour of Congress candidate Mandula Samel who won the election.

Now Ganesh is all set to throw a spanner in Dayakar’s works. An Osmania University product, Dayakar contested and lost from
Thungathurthi in the 2014 and 2018 Assembly elections to BRS’ Gadari Kishore.

According to sources, the chief minister is keen that the Congress win the seat as he wants to secure his party as much as possible in the Assembly as he has a wafer-thin majority.

The Congress has 64 MLAs besides its ally CPI which has one member in the 119-member House.

Also Read: Kadiyam Kavya is Congress candidate for Warangal (SC) Lok Sabha seat

Congress hopes for a victory

The sources said the Congress hopes to swing the result in its favour this time as Secunderabad Cantonment is part of Malakajgiri Lok Sabha constituency from where Revanth Reddy won in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

With the perception building that the tide of public opinion has turned in favour of the Congress, the chief minister hopes that winning the seat may not pose any difficulty as he has a natural connection with the people.

The BJP, in this political chess game, stands as the main loser.

Sri Ganesh, who the BJP had thought was its prize catch and who had given Nanditha the run for her money in the Assembly elections is now in the Congress camp.

Had he stayed in the BJP he would have become the natural choice for the seat. Now the party has to look for a candidate of a stature to match the strength and wit of KCR and Revanth Reddy in giving a fight to their candidates in the by-election.

BJP sources said very soon the party would take a call on who should be its candidate.

(Edited by Muhammed Fazil)