- Konda Vishweswar Reddy had quit TRS last year to join Congress
- Hit out at KCR, said he had become the new Nizam
- Added that he felt sidelined in the party, did not have any freedom
Konda Vishweswar Reddy, the Congress candidate from Telangana's Chevella parliamentary constituency, is attracting huge interest and attention this election season. When many Congress leaders joined the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) before the assembly election and at least 10 elected legislators after the elections, he chose to stick to the Congress.
The engineer and entrepreneur-turned politician was elected on a TRS ticket in the 2014 national election but quit the party last year and joined the Congress, before the state election. Mr Reddy said there is no democracy within the K Chandrashekar Rao's party and that he was disappointed.
With declared family assets worth Rs. 895 crore, Konda Vishweshwar Reddy is the richest candidate in both Telangana and Andhra Pradesh.
"I was reluctant to enter politics. I was coaxed and convinced by the TRS leaders as I was part of the Telangana movement. But once the TRS won the elections, they took a U-turn, reneging on those very promises for which we fought for Telangana," the 59-year-old industrialist told NDTV.
The industrialist happens to be the husband of Apollo group joint managing director Sangita Reddy who too has been campaigning extensively for her husband. As many as 40 members of the Reddy family are actively campaigning for Konda Vishweswar Reddy.
"They used to blame Andhra chief ministers, that they never cared for the people. In my constituency of Ranga Reddy district (incidentally named after his grandfather who was deputy chief minister), every so-called Andhra chief minister, from Chandrababu Naidu to YS Rajasekhara Reddy to my classmate Kiran Kumar Reddy, visited and listened to people here but KCR (K Chandrashekar Rao) came only to ask votes in 2014 and again now,'' he said.
"We fought for Telangana promising water, jobs and funds, none of which materialised and I was answerable to the people. But TRS leadership became arrogant and it is a family rule like no other with six members of the family in the government at the same time. There is no space left for anything else,'' Mr Reddy said.
"Nizam's rule went decades ago but KCR has turned into the new Nizam and his son KCR is the crown prince,'' Mr Reddy said bitterly.
Mr Reddy says he felt sidelined in the party and that he was not given any freedom. The constituency he represents, Chevella, is among the 10 largest seats in the country with the most diverse population, from the hi-tech city of Hyderabad, to areas beyond the Falaknuma to the rural belt where farmer distress is still a huge challenge. The constituency has 60 per cent urban population.
The goodwill enjoyed by his family over generations in the area and their philanthropic work through NGOs are believed to have helped Konda Vishweswar Reddy score an impressive victory by 73,000 votes in 2014.
"Last time we got the rural vote. The IT crowd which did not favour a separate Telangana and the agitations may have been reluctant to vote for the TRS. But now, they are all with me,'' Mr Reddy said.
The TRS candidate for Chevella is Ranjith Reddy and the BJP candidate is B Janardhan reddy. "It is my fight against the establishment. They have taken it as a prestige fight. The candidate is only a prop. The real fight, even electorally is with KCR,'' Konda Vishweswar Reddy said.
TRS minister Malla Reddy said Konda Vishweshwar Reddy would not even recover his deposit amount. "In 2014, he was elected on a TRS ticket. He won here and shifted there. He won' even get his deposit back," he declared.
What's unusual about the Congress candidate is that he has got at least three patents, including those on sanitation and solar energy. He got one of them while he was parliamentarian.