Perceived initially as a one-sided affair in favour of Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS), the election for Adilabad Lok Sabha constituency reserved for Scheduled Tribes has now crystallised into a triangular fight with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress gaining ground.
Two reasons have become evident during electioneering, which have given a fillip to the campaign of the BJP and Congress, one the questionable performance of TRS candidate G. Nagesh as Member of Parliament during the last five years and the voters exhibiting different priorities in the Parliament election.
The Lok Sabha election having come in the wake of a thumping success of the TRS in the December Assembly election, it was assumed that the ruling party in the State had a natural advantage over the other two parties. There was a feel-good factor in the TRS camp as it had the support of all the MLAs representing the seven Assemby segment which comprise the constituency.
“As campaigning progressed it became more and more evident that the priorities of voters have changed. By and large, the voters are focussing on national parties,” opined a senior TRS leader, explaining the campaign trends.
“The performance of Mr. Nagesh, an Adivasi, as MP has become a millstone around his neck. Voters, especially from the aborginal tribes are throwing questions at him about his inaccessibility and poor performance in Lok Sabha with regard to the Adivasi movement for removing Lambadas from the list of Scheduled Tribes,” the leader added. On the other hand, the seeming antagonism towards the TRS candidate is likely to benefit BJP’s Soyam Bapu Rao, also an Adivasi Raj Gond.
He is known to have championed the cause of the ethnic tribes who complain of being subjected to injustice owing to the ‘illegal’ entry of Lambadas into the list of STs. Congress candidate Ramesh Rathod, a Lambada, is hoping to win and is banking on the assumed support of the a majority of Lambada voters, the size of that electorate being close to one lakh and the Muslim vote which is an estimated 1.2 lakh in number.
“The Lambadas are likely to vote for him as he is an avowed supporter of the cause of his community and the Muslims who wish to prevent BJP from winning,” opined a Congress campaign manager of Mr. Rathod. For the sake of record Mr. Nagesh had won the 2014 election defeating Congress candidate Naresh Jadhav by over 1.7 lakh votes while Mr. Ramesh was in third place, nearly 2.5 lakh votes behind the winner.
Mr. Bapu Rao lost the last Assembly election from Boath (ST) as Congress candidate by a margin of nearly 6,500 votes while Mr. Ramesh Rathod lost his election from Khanapur (ST) by over 20,000 votes, both to TRS rivals.