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.
The Maheshwaram Assembly constituency in the Ranga Reddy district is known for its burgeoning development: Multi-functional community halls, the ongoing construction of gated villas, real-estate ventures every kilometre, and the Urban Forest Park.
It is a relatively new Assembly segment, having been created just before the 2009 Lok Sabha elections. It is also one of the 24 constituencies under the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation.
However, there is discontent as well. Residents of Gadikota village in the constituency, for instance, voice their frustration over the absence of burial space for their deceased.
There appears to be a sense of bonding among the people of this constituency: They address the state’s Education Minister Sabitha Indra Reddy as Sabitha Madam or Sabitha Akka.
They appear proud of the minister serving the constituency as an MLA, an apt successor of her late husband Patlolla Indra Reddy, who died in a car accident.
The four-time MLA floated the Jai Telangana Party in 1998, which merged with the Congress a month later. He was first elected on a TDP ticket in 1985 and served as the minister for education and then the home minister.
After his death, his wife Sabitha Indra Reddy assumed office, becoming the first woman Minister of Home, Jail, and Fire Services, Sainik Welfare, and Disaster Management of Andhra Pradesh.
Sabitha contested from Chevella twice and Maheshwaram constituency twice.
She was a Congress candidate in the 2018 elections. However, she joined the TRS (now the BRS) after the win, and its chief K Chandrashekar Rao made her the education minister.
That was also what Union minister and Telangana BJP chief G Kishan Reddy highlighted while campaigning in the constituency on the day South First visited.
“Our party’s leader Andela Sriramulu has worked for the welfare of the people in the constituency,” he added.
Demand for houses
The historical village Gadikota once hosted Maratha warrior Chhatrapati Shivaji, who is said to have paid obeisance at the Shiva temple located there before proceeding to Srisailam.
The residents of this village tell everybody, “We live in Gadikota, the hill-like structure which takes one to the temple.”
Yet, despite the show of affection towards the local MLA, there is discontent among some. Take for example Danalakshmi, a hawker who sells plastic items in the weekly market and curses her poverty and uncertain future.
“We have been living here for nearly 30 years, and we have rooms, but the government will seize them at any moment as we were not given documents for the rooms,” she said.
“Around 50 families live here, and the only scheme we receive is a food security ration card. Even then the rice being distributed is of low quality,” she said. “Politicians make promises in the run-up to the elections, but nothing materialises.”
Danalakshmi also said: “I have two daughters. I have to be mindful of their safety because we walk with our hawking vehicle and return late. I have been enquiring if I can get the amount under the Gruha Lakshmi scheme for the government site we have, so that I can add my savings and construct a house.”
Pusla Raju one of the elders of Gadikota, said: “There are nearly 100 votes from the surroundings, but the situation of our families is the worst. We have no burial space for the dead of our community.”
He added: “We still cling to this place thinking that one or the other leader will come to give us a better life. The elders receive pensions in the families. We make ends meet with that and our meagre income.”
No ration cards
B Chinna Krishna runs a mechanic shop. He explained how villagers in a few mandals of the Maheswaram constituency are waiting for pensions that were stopped four months ago, even as ration-card applications received no replies for years.
“As far I remember, our application was when YS Rajasekhara Reddy was the chief minister of united Andhra Pradesh. Nothing has changed,” he said.
And that’s not all. “My father’s name has also been removed from the pension list, and we are tired of visiting the offices,” he said.
T Jyoti, a migrant, said that her roots were in Rajasthan and her family would be voting in this year’s Telangana elections for the first time as they shifted to Maheshwaram only around four years ago.
“We have found livelihood here, but our ration card issue is not fixed yet. We applied for both a ration card and a voter ID card. We received the latter. However, we are in need of food: My husband must feed three daughters at home,” she said.
“My children did not face a problem in getting admission in the local government schools. It is a request that we get a ration card,” she said.
Telangana polls: Cash, gold, liquor, freebies worth over ₹603 cr seized so far
Labourers demand welfare schemes
The women in the Maheswaram Constituency, whose husbands are the sole earners for their families, said KCR introduced schemes such as Rythu Bandhu, Rythu Bheema, and 2 BHK houses for individuals who already had assets.
But what about daily wage labourers? That was their question.
Sunitha is one such woman, and she said on all their behalf: “My husband is a daily wage labourer and there is an aged lady at home. She is receiving a pension, but the chief minister should also think about daily wage labourers.”
She asked: “What are we being given? Farmers are getting their Rythu Bandhu, and a few others out of the Maheswaram constituency are being allotted newly constructed 2 BHK houses in Mansanpally. Which politician will look into the difficulties of our family?”
Women working in fields near Mansanpally echoed the sentiments.
“We are being paid ₹400 per day for work in the fields. This has not changed for over two years now. They will give us additional work if we ask, but there is no extra pay,” they said.
“Politicians are visiting us as it is election time, but who has included a scheme in the manifesto for daily wage labourers? Maheshwaram has real-estate work involving daily wagers. Hence, a scheme dedicated to us should be a priority.”
No facilities in 2BHK houses
The 2BHK Dignity Housing Colony of Mansanpally in the Maheswaram constituency is yet to get water and power facilities in the houses.
One of the families who came to check the facility so that they move in told South First, “We applied in 2016. We received a call at the beginning of this year that we had been selected for a house,” said Mohammed Wahab.
“We came, and the documents and keys of the house were handed over. We live in Shadnagar and this is a very new place for us daily-wagers,” he added.
“I need to adjust because my son, who is differently-abled was granted ₹1 lakh under a minority scheme and is working in Nampally. He cannot travel this far,” explained Wahab.
“Meanwhile, the water and power facilities are yet to reach the locality.”
He, however, also said: “We would like to see Chandrashekar Rao back to power as he is doing so much for the poor.”