TPCC president N. Uttam Kumar Reddy, a former IAF fighter pilot, now fights for his wife Padmavati Reddy at his five-time home constituency Huzurnagar.
On several occasions, after the 2018 failure of People’s Front, his leaders held Uttam Kumar accountable, even demanding his resignation. But his sixth consecutive victory, a first as MP for Nalgonda, which necessitated the Huzurnagar bypoll now, displays Congress’ new-found friendship within. Mr. Reddy’s complaints on the EC, the police and on Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao, show an improvement.
Will the bypoll “teach KCR a befitting lesson” as he says, or give honour to his wife Padmavati Reddy and his party? Excerpts:
Your wife, runner-up in Kodad in 2018, Padmavati Reddy, seems privileged by securing the nomination. But what was the fiasco surrounding Congress candidature?
Firstly, Padmavati entered the contest unwillingly, like I had to for Nalgonda Lok Sabha election. Although we were thinking of other candidates, she is the appropriate candidate given the timing. And there is no point of privilege as Congress candidature arises out of winnability and not belonging. There is no resentment over it too. Revanth Reddy proposed a candidate, but it is all settled. The decision to field Padmavati was taken by the AICC.
But TPCC working president A. Revanth Reddy’s statement on candidature reunited all Congress leaders, especially after the People’s Front failure under your leadership?
Maybe, yes. Revanth Reddy will campaign here. But the larger interest of the Congress, and all the leaders, is to teach the TRS government a befitting lesson through this bypoll.
TRS candidate Shanampudi Saidireddy lost buy a margin of 7,466 votes. How do you weigh your prospects vis-a-vis the TRS now?
Time was an important factor during the 2018 Assembly elections. I was also leading People’s Front discussions and VIP meetings. But people voted for development despite heavy money and liquor influence by the TRS.
Even now, there are 700 TRS leaders who made Huzurnagar their hub, the police and the election machinery is on their side. Congress campaigns are low-cost and focus on person-to-person in every village. We will win with a margin of 30,000.
You approach the EC often, like in 2018. What was your role in the transfer of SP, while the poll code is in force?
It was the Congress party, and a few BJP leaders, that approached the EC. Several of my sarpanches, MPTCs and others suffered under him. All the forcible admissions to TRS were in police presence. The SP was aligning with the TRS candidate, who publicly said he would ensure that no police station in Huzurnagar will encourage a Congress man’s complaint. We also don’t trust the Returning Officer, who is doing this job at this place for the third consecutive time.
Support of the CPI, CPI (M), TDP and a few independents would have come handy?
I don’t know why CPI wanted to support the TRS. CPI (M) is willing at the local level, but their leadership was opposed to it. We requested the TDP, but they are going alone and I think it will expose their strength or weakness.
I don’t see any independent candidate as a potential threat. Surely, votes will be split.
Why do you say TRS defeat will be a befitting lesson for KCR?
Chief Minister Chandrasekhar Rao destroyed all traditions in politics, and his focus is only on winning elections — with money or liquor. The Madigas go unrepresented, there is no unemployment allowance or land for dalits. Forget Mission Bhagiratha for water, they have damaged all roads and yet no house in entire Huzurnagar gets water by tap. If TRS wins, it will be acknowledgement of his style of governance — autocracy.
What would Congress do if it wins the Huzurnagar seat?
I as an MP have already made requests in Parliament on passenger railway line between Jagayyapeta and Miryalaguda, and road expansion on the Miryalaguda–Huzurnagar stretch. Sanction for ESI super speciality hospital, a skill development centre of international standards will happen in this term.
With one vote for Congress, Huzurnagar people will get two MLAs — me and Padmavati Reddy — working together for development.