Ground Report: Mahabubnagar grapples with ‘poor’ infrastructure, unemployment, and tight BRS-Congress contest

Backward Classes, minorities, Reddys, Velamas, Mudirajus, Scheduled Castes, and Scheduled Tribes are dominant in historic Mahabubnagar.

ByMahesh M Goudar

Published Nov 18, 2023 | 10:00 AMUpdatedNov 18, 2023 | 10:00 AM

Mahbubnagar constituency Telangana assembly elections

With the Telangana Assembly elections 2023 just days away, South First is bringing you ground reports from key constituencies. This series brings you voices from the ground, the mood of the voters, and issues that matter — as well as those that don’t.

In the heart of Mahabubnagar, a town marked by dreams and aspirations, there exists a poignant narrative of individuals living below the poverty line, each harbouring a fervent desire for a home to call their own.

The vision of owning a house, a sanctuary of stability and security, has long been a cherished dream for many in this community.

The transformative 2BHK housing scheme initiated by the K Chandrashekar Rao government sought to turn these dreams into reality for over a thousand families. However, the implementation of this ambitious endeavour reveals a bittersweet truth.

While the scheme successfully provided housing for over a thousand families, the beneficiaries found themselves grappling with unexpected challenges at KCR Nagar in Divitipally, where 1,024 2BHK houses have been constructed.

Also read: BRS seeks to avoid allotment hiccups in its 2BHK houses scheme

House-sized problem

The dream took a detour as these families were compelled to dig deeper into their pockets to rectify the problems that plagued their new homes.

The additional financial burden dampened the spirits of those who had hoped for a fresh start, bringing to light the complexities and hurdles associated with housing initiatives.

Gundu Rao, a beneficiary of the 2BHK housing scheme in Divitipally, told South First: “Most of the beneficiaries had to fix the problems in the houses after the government handed them over. The quality of the houses was so poor that we had to shell out lakhs from our pockets to fix the damages.”

Telangana Assembly Elections Mahabubnagar 2BHK Housing Scheme KCR Nagar

Gundu Rao blamed the KCR government for the construction poor quality of 2BHK houses at Divitipally in Mahabubnagar. (Mahesh M Goudar/South First)

He added: “We spent more money for repair works than the government or contractor took to build this house. I spent ₹10 lakh.”

He continued: “We are happy that the government is providing free 2BHK houses, but the quality is poor. They have just erected walls and there is nothing in the house.” Rao also mentioned that it was difficult for the common man to buy a plot in Mahabubnagar due to high rates.

Thus it is that the Divitipally locality bears witness to more than 1,000 houses that represent unmet expectations.

The infrastructure does not include the essential amenities — proper roads, security measures, educational institutions, a local vegetable market, street lights, and reliable public transport connectivity all being absent.

This casts a shadow on the very essence of a home — a place that should ideally foster growth, comfort, and community well-being.

Telangana Assembly Elections Mahabubnagar 2BHK Housing Scheme KCR Nagar

Petty shop owner Lingam Yadgir expressed concern over the lack of facilities at KCR Nagar. (Mahesh M Goudar/South First)

Petty shop owner Lingam Yadigir told South First: “It has been over two years; we have been given a 2BHK house free of cost by the BRS government. We have all the facilities except good roads. When it rains, it is impossible to move on the muddy road.”

He added: “The roads inside the colony are in a bad condition. It is difficult for women to travel as there is hardly any public transport.”

Lingam said: “The government must build a school for our children as there is not even a single school nearby. The local administration has to strengthen the police patrolling as this colony has turned out to be a haven for thieves in recent times.”

In the midst of these challenges, the narrative of Mahabubnagar’s residents unveils a complex interplay between dreams realised and dreams deferred, calling for a critical examination of the broader implications of housing schemes and the need for comprehensive development initiatives to ensure the well-being of every community member.

Also read: Amara Raja to set up ₹9,500-crore R&D facility in Mahabubnagar

Historic Mahabubnagar

Mahabubnagar, nestled in the heart of Telangana, is a city with a rich historic heritage and a promising future.

Formerly known as Rukmammapeta and Palamooru, this city in the Mahbubnagar district bears the imprints of its past, echoing the legacy of the sixth Nizam, Mahboob Ali Khan, after whom it is named.

Serving as the headquarters of the Mahabubnagar mandal in the Mahabubnagar Revenue Division, this city encompasses an expansive area of 39.64 sq km, making it the largest in the district and the seventh-most populous in the state.

In the Mahabubnagar Assembly segment, Mahbubnagar and Hanwad stand as the two tehsils contributing to the administrative and cultural fabric of the region.

The city’s allure is amplified by the presence of a remarkable natural wonder — the renowned Pillalamarri banyan tree, situated approximately 4 km from the town. This ancient arboreal giant, believed to be 700 years old, sprawls over three acres, creating an enchanting landscape reminiscent of a verdant umbrella.

Beneath its branches lies the tomb of a Muslim saint, adding a spiritual dimension to the captivating scenery.

Beyond its natural wonders, Mahabubnagar boasts a robust infrastructure for education and healthcare.

The district headquarters hosts medical, engineering, and polytechnic colleges, drawing students from surrounding rural areas. The city’s commitment to education is a testament to its role as a regional hub for learning and academic excellence.

Telangana Assembly Elections Mahabubnagar IT Park

IT Park in the outskirts of Mahabubnagar. (South First)

In a stride towards modernity, Mahabubnagar welcomed the inauguration of an IT Tower in 2023.

Aligned with incumbent Minister for Information Technology, Electronics and Communications KT Rama Rao’s vision of “3D” —Digitise, Decarbonise, and Decentralise — this IT park represents a step towards technological advancement.

However, its full potential is yet to be realised, with a dearth of companies catering to local employment needs in the IT sector.

Despite these aspirations, Mahabubnagar currently grapples with a limited industrial landscape, prompting many residents to seek employment opportunities in the bustling metropolis of Hyderabad.

Engineering student Ajay Reddy told South First: “We have excellent infrastructure for education. I am pursuing engineering in the third year. The government is making efforts to generate employment by setting up Mahabubanagar’s first IT park.”

He added: “At present, there are hardly any companies and job opportunities here. We hope that in the following days, the government will stress the development of the IT park at a larger scale, so that we do not have to depend on either Hyderabad or Bengaluru for employment opportunities in the IT sector.”

In essence, Mahabubnagar stands as a city that harmonises its historical charm with aspirations for progress. From the ancient Pillalamarri banyan tree to the contemporary strides in education and technology, Mahabubnagar is a city poised at the intersection of tradition and modernity.

Also read: Election-related seizures cross ₹500 crore in Telangana

Mixed response to BRS, Congress promises

The guarantee schemes of the Congress and the BRS have evoked mixed responses across the Mahabubnagar Assembly segment.

Telangana Assembly Elections Mahabubnagar 2BHK Housing Scheme KCR Nagar

Homemaker L Nagamani opposes freebies from the political parties. (Mahesh M Goudar/South First)

Homemaker L Nagamani told South First: “Political parties must stop announcing freebies for voters. The government must work towards strengthening education and health infrastructure instead of stressing on private players.”

She added: “Middle-class families will not be able to pay the bills of private schools and hospitals. The government must start English-medium schools, which is the need of the hour for the poor in Mahabubnagar. I condemn both the BRS’ and the Congress’ freebies.”

Fruit vendor Farahat Maniyar told South First: “I am perplexed that all the parties are announcing freebies, especially financial assistance programmes. How will they provide for them? Does the Telangana government have sufficient funds to implement these freebies?”

He added: “I won’t trust these promises from the BRS and the Congress until they are implemented.”

The Congress has announced the Mahalakshmi Yojana (₹2,500 monthly for women), Gruja Jyothi (free electricity up to 200 units), Cheyutha (₹4,000 monthly pension for senior citizens), Inidramma Indlu (house site and ₹5 lakh for the poor) and Yuva Vikasam (Vidya Bharosa Cards worth ₹5 lakh).

Following in the footsteps of the Congress, the BRS — currently in power in the state — has also announced the Sobhagyalakshmi Scheme (₹3,000 monthly to poor women), Ryuthu Bandhu, gas cylinder at ₹400 to eligible families, Aasara pension (monetary assistance to be hiked to ₹5,000 in a phased manner), disability pension (₹6,000), and the KCR Bhima Prathi Intiki Dheema scheme.

Also read: Voting patterns tell you what makes Telangana a curious contest

Opinion about BRS government

While farmers are happy with the BRS government, several youngsters and women are unhappy at its failure to generate ample employment opportunities and implement pension schemes, respectively.

The Aasara pension, Rythu Bandhu, Dalit Bandhu, Podu Patta, Dharani Portal, Mission Bhagiratha, 2BHK housing scheme, and Rythu Runa Mafi are some of the flagship schemes launched by the Chandrashekar Rao government since 2014.

Farmer Buddaiah, a resident of Konagattupally who grows groundnut and chilli over four acres of land, told South First: “I have got all the benefits from the BRS government. I received Rythu Bandhu and Rythu Runa Mafi. I have not faced any hurdles while getting the benefits of these schemes.”

He added: “The cost of labour and fertilisers has increased rapidly. We are able to manage these expenses with the financial assistance that I receive from the KCR government. The financial aid won’t meet all the demands but has reduced my burden to a certain extent.”

Telangana Assembly Elections Mahabubnagar

Farm Labour R Sathyamma criticised the government for not giving Aasara pension. (Mahesh M Goudar/South First)

Farm labour R Sathyamma told South First: “I do not have any land. Hence, I am working as a farm labour. I get paid ₹300 to ₹400 per day, which is not sufficient. I am also a widow but not getting any pension despite applying.”

She added: “I have a son as well. How do we survive? The officers only give assurance but won’t respond properly to our queries. We are fed up with this government.”

Ravi Naik, a resident of the Chinnadarpally Colony of Mahabubnagar City, told South First: “I applied for the 2BHK housing scheme but did not get it. I reside in 14th Ward, and none of the people in my locality got the house. The development in this segment is nil.”

Telangana Assembly Elections Mahabubnagar

Ravi Kumar alleges goondaism from incumbent minister V Srinivas Goud in Mahabubnagar. (Mahesh M Goudar/South First)

He added: “If we raise any issue or speak against the MLA, the local police register false cases against us and torture us. If we speak with the news media or raise our voice against anything illegal, (incumbent MLA) Srinivas Goud sends goondas to thrash us.”

He continued: “Democracy and rights have died in this segment. We are thinking of giving opportunity to new faces in the Assembly polls.”

Naik also pointed out that there were very few employment opportunities in the Assembly segment.

Meanwhile, several farmers alleged that the Podu Patta scheme had not been implemented properly.

“The government is not giving patta to the entire land; instead, it is giving deeds only for half of the land. Why is the government not providing patta to the entire land? Haven’t we provided all the details in the application?” asked Krishna, a resident of Hanwada.

“Why are only BRS workers getting preference as beneficiaries for the government schemes? We have lost trust in the incumbent government,” he said.

Also read: ‘KCR schemes, Congress guarantees are conspiracies’

Political equations

Historic Mahabubnagar is all geared up to witness a fierce battle between the BRS and the Congress in the 30 November Telangana Assembly polls.

Telangana Assembly Elections Mahabubnagar

Click to expand.

Current Telangana Minister for Prohibition and Excise, Sports and Youth Services, Tourism, Culture, and Archaeology V Srinivas Goud has represented the Mahabubnagar Assembly segment for the last two consecutive terms.

Bureaucrat-turned-politician Srinivas Goud defeated his nearest rival, TDP nominee M Chandrashekar, by a whopping margin of 57,775 votes in the 2018 Assembly polls.

The BRS grossed a record 54.16 percent of the votes, the TDP got 17.97 percent, the BSP got 13.57 percent, and the BJP got a mere 3.72 percent.

In the 2023 Assembly polls, the BRS has again fielded Srinivas Goud, the Congress has chosen former MLA Y Srinivas Reddy, and the BJP has fielded AP Mithun Reddy, who is the son of former MP AP Jithendra Reddy.

Political commentator Basavaraju told South First: “This Assembly poll is likely to witness a tight fight between the BRS and the Congress in Mahabubnagar. As Srinivas Goud hails from the Backward Classes (BCs), which are dominant in the segment, he enjoys massive support.”

He added: “He addressed major issues, including drinking water, since he got elected. Congress nominee Srinivas Reddy could not concentrate on the development works during his short 2.5-year stint as an MLA because of the Telangana movement.”

The expert also said: “He is a good person and does not have any blemish. However, he is returning to the segment after nearly a decade. He was hardly in touch with the people of the constituency. He is enjoying the support of Reddys in this poll.”

He added: “BJP candidate AP Mithun Reddy, son of former MP Jithendra Reddy, is likely to make an impact but not cross the line. The fight is between the Congress and the BRS.”

Also read: BRS manifesto a copy of our guarantees, says Congress

Caste and other equations

BCs, minorities, Reddys, Velamas, Mudirajus, Scheduled Castes (SCs), and Scheduled Tribes (STs) are dominant in the Mahabubnagar Assembly seat.

There are 2.43 lakh voters in the constituency. Women voters outnumber men in the segment. Of the total voters, 1,21,960 are women, 1,21,397 are men, and 10 are transgender persons.

Madhu, another political commentator, pointed out: “The people consider caste, development, and party while exercising their franchise. In rural areas, caste plays a key role.”

He added: “Srinivas Goud won the last two Assembly polls because he belongs to the BC community, which is a deciding factor in the segment. Those who are unhappy with the BRS are likely to switch their votes to another party.”