Andhras in Telangana and their influence on families back home to choose between NDA and YSRCP

Hyderabad is home to majority of Andhras in Telangana. Political parties, aware of their influence, have nursed them with tender care.

ByRaj Rayasam

Published May 12, 2024 | 3:00 PMUpdatedMay 12, 2024 | 3:00 PM

YS Jagan Mohan Reddy and Chandrababu Naidu. (Facebook)

What role do Andhras settled in Hyderabad and elsewhere in Telangana play in elections in Andhra Pradesh?

Hyderabad is home to the majority of Andhras in Telangana, numbering in the lakhs. The deserted roads during the Sankranti vacation bear testimony to their numbers.

They all leave en masse for their hometowns and villages in Andhra, causing traffic snarls at the toll plazas on both state and national highways. Each year, the situation only worsens.

Not all Andhra residents may be voters in Andhra, but a significant portion are.

If those who have votes in Andhra travel to their home towns and villages to vote for the party of their choice, others who stay in Telangana to vote, however, influence their families to support the party they think is good for them.

The political parties, who are aware of the significant influence Andhra voters have in determining the election outcomes, nurse this constituency with tender care.

More so, the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) maintains its umbilical cord with IT professionals settled in Hyderabad, even as it now operates solely as a regional party confined to Andhra Pradesh.

Also Read: In battle for Andhra Pradesh, will beneficiaries bail out Jagan Mohan Reddy?

Andhra-Telangana political dynamics

It is a given, that about 40 lakh Andhras live in Telangana. Although they have settled there decades ago, they become active during elections.

Until 2014, when the states remained united, they used to support the TDP. After the bifurcation, they turned to the BRS. They apparently felt that it would help in the development of Hyderabad if they stick with the ruling party.

But much water has flowed in Krishna since 2014. The mosaic of the political landscape changed both in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh.

From 2014 to 2019, Chandrababu Naidu was at the helm in the truncated Andhra Pradesh. Afterwards, it was YS Jagan Mohan Reddy.

Jagan and K Chandrasekhar Rao, who was the Chief Minister of Telangana till the recent Assembly elections in November last year, remained bosom friends. This apparently led those affiliated to TDP keep a low profile.

Things began changing after the Congress came to power in Telangana and Chandrababu Naidu began breaking down Jagan Mohan Reddy’s neck in Andhra Pradesh.

As Telangana Chief Minister A Revanth Reddy and his Andhra counterpart Jagan Mohan Reddy do not see eye to eye, the TDP supporters in Telangana had apparently turned to the Congress, while supporting the TDP in Andhra Pradesh.

In fact, even Andhras who were hardcore supporters of the Congress in Telangana turned to the TDP in Andhra Pradesh because they suspected that frictions between the two states would continue if the YSRCP returned to power.

This is because Chief Minister Jagan is likely to team up with former Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao once again.

Also Read: Naidu allied with BJP which wants to abolish Muslim reservation: Andhra CM Jagan

Support for Congress

According to political analysts, it is not just the IT professionals but Andhras in other professions as well, who are now reconsidering their support for the TDP in AP.

Film actor Chiranjeevi, formerly with Congress and now claiming to be apolitical, has expressed solidarity with his brother Pawan Kalyan, who is Naidu’s ally in Andhra Pradesh.

When asked whether he was still with the Congress, Chiranjeevi last night simply smiled, neither confirming nor denying, allowing the question to linger. He was speaking to reporters upon returning from Delhi after receiving the Padma Vibhushan pursakaram from the President.

Interestingly, the Congress and the BJP are always daggers drawn. But in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, a strange political milieu has emerged. Naidu is in NDA now but Congress Chief Minsiter Revanth Reddy treats him with respect.

This apart, the kammas, the caste that is associated with the TDP, have thrown their lot with the Congress in Telangana.

In fact, former TDP minister Thummala Nageswara Rao is now in Revanth Reddy’s’ cabinet and it is an open secret that the kammas in Khammam had supported the Congress in the Assembly elections.

Also Read: TDP, YSRCP compromising Andhra’s interests to stay in BJP’s good books: Sharmila

‘Andhras want to end Jagan-KCR combo for good’

According to political analyst and Chandrababu Naidu-watcher Padagala Tejaswini, “This time situation is dicey. The Andhras in Telangana are likely to influence their families back in Andhra to vote for the TDP because they want to put an end to the Jagan-KCR combo for good. Any fresh lease of life for the two leaders might lead to friction between the two states.”

She said that there was another well-known reason why the IT professionals support the TDP in Andhra Pradesh. It was because Chandrababu Naidu laid the foundation for the IT sector in Hyderabad in 1990s, which flourished by the time he left office in undivided Andhra Pradesh in 2004.

He returned as the chief minister for the truncated Andhra Pradesh in 2014. Now he is trying to come back to power. Seeing how Jagan Mohan Reddy’s dispensation had turned into an anti-people government, they might throw their lot behind Naidu this time, Tejaswini said.

At the same time, she pointed out that the result of the election would be close call as it is a contest between development and welfarism.

She thinks that the educated section in Telangana may or may not vote for the Congress as Narendra Modi is a prominent leader. However, when it comes to Andhras in Telangana, they might support Naidu in the Assembly elections for Andhra Pradesh.

‘IT hype will not play out this time’

But there are other opinions as well on who Andhras in Telangana would support in Andhra Pradesh. They believe that the IT hype will not play out this time because the present generation is not familiar with Chandrababu Naidu.

Political commentator Palwai Raghavender Reddy said, “Naidu may have laid the foundation for the IT sector in Hyderabad, but it is a long shot considering it was back in the 1990s.”

“Since then, about 24 years have passed. The IT professionals know Chandrababu Naidu as the chief minister of truncated Andhra Pradesh between 2014 and 2019, during which time he had no role in the development of Hyderabad,” he said.

He believes that Jagan Mohan Reddy, with his welfare mantra, has transcended the border and entered Telangana.

“I know many poor people who migrated to Hyderabad in search of livelihood, doing small-time work, working as maids, or taking on various jobs. They receive all the benefits of Jagan Mohan Reddy’s welfare schemes,” Raghavender Reddy said.

“Even though they live in Hyderabad, funds from welfare schemes like pensions, Vidya Deevana, and Amma Vodi are credited to their bank accounts. They believe they owe a debt to repay Jagan Mohan Reddy, and some might even ask their relatives and friends back in Andhra to vote for him,” he continued.

“Those who have votes in Andhra Pradesh wouldn’t mind undertaking travel to vote for Jagan Mohan Reddy. The YSRCP is aware of this fact and is trying to ensure they get maximum benefit from this section as well,” he said.

“Jagan Mohan Reddy believes Naidu’s charisma no longer works in Telangana, where he ceased to exist long ago. That is why Jagan is confident of winning the election. He hopes that money would do the trick, though Congress headed by Sharmila might spoil the broth for her brother in some constituencies,” Raghavender Reddy added.

(Edited by Shauqueen Mizaj)