Gajwel and Kamareddy are the two constituencies grabbing all the attention not just because Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao (KCR) is the contestant from both seats, but because he is being challenged by two leading Opposition figures from there.

The Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) chief is seeking re-election from Gajwel in his home district Siddipet and has entered the fray for the first time from Kamareddy constituency in Kamareddy district in north Telangana.

KCR, who has never lost an election in nearly four decades, contested for both Assembly and Lok Sabha polls on a few occasions but this is the first time that he has entered the fray from two Assembly constituencies.

K Chandrasekhara Rao
K Chandrasekhara Rao (L) with Prime Minister Narendra Modi (R)Wikimedia Commons

While the Opposition parties interpreted this move by KCR as fear of defeat in Gajwel, the BRS leaders have dismissed this argument. "The word fear is not there in the dictionary of our leader," said BRS MLA K Kavitha, who is KCR's daughter.

BRS working president and KCR's son KT Rama Rao defended the move saying the BRS supremo is an asset of Telangana and he can choose any constituency to contest from.

KCR, who was elected from Siddipet Assembly constituency five times, is known for changing constituencies. He was also elected to the Lok Sabha from Karimnagar, Mahabubnagar and Medak.

In 2014, KCR was elected from Gajwel by a margin of 19,391 votes against his nearest rival Vanteru Pratap Reddy of the Telugu Desam Party (TDP). KCR was also elected to the Lok Sabha from Medak. As TRS (now BRS) secured majority in the 119-member Assembly, KCR vacated his Lok Sabha seat to become the first chief minister of the new state.

KCR campaigning in TelanganaIANS

KCR retained Gajwel in 2018 with a huge majority of 58,290 votes. His nearest rival was again Vanteru Pratap Reddy, who had contested on a Congress ticket. The Congress and the TDP had an electoral alliance in 2018. Pratap Reddy defected to BRS in 2019.

This time, the BRS chief is not only seeking re-election from Gajwel but is also contesting from Kamareddy on the "invitation of local BRS leaders." Gampa Goverdhan, who had been winning the seat for BRS since 2012, has made way for KCR.

Kamareddy is part of undivided Nizamabad district and it was from Nizamabad Lok Sabha constituency that KCR's daughter Kavitha was elected in 2014 but lost to BJP's Dharampuri Arvind in 2019.

Political analysts say though Kamareddy is part of Zaheerabad Lok Sabha constituency, KCR may be looking to influence the outcome in Nizamabad from where Kavitha is set to enter the fray again in 2024.

The BRS chief also has a Kamareddy connection. He was native of Konapur Village of Kamareddy before his family migrated to Chintamadaka Village in Medak district.

Interestingly, the two Opposition heavyweights challenging KCR in Gajwel and Kamareddy are themselves contesting from two Assembly seats each.

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In Gajwel, KCR will be facing the BJP's Eatala Rajender, who was once his close confidante. Rajender, a key leader of the BRS since its inception, had quit the party and defected to the BJP after he was dropped from the Cabinet by KCR in 2021 following allegations that lands of some farmers were encroached by Jamuna Hatcheries owned by his wife in Hakimpet in the Gajwel Assembly segment.

However, the real reason for KCR's action was believed to be Rajender's remark that the leaders were not slaves to the pink flag but were its owners.

After coming out of BRS, Rajender launched a scathing attack on KCR over his style of functioning. He retained the Huzurabad seat in the bypoll on a BJP ticket. This time, he is also seeking re-election from Huzurabad, which he has been holding since 2009.

Rajender, who wants to take revenge on KCR for hounding him out of the state cabinet, is hoping to get support from voters belonging to his Mudiraj caste.

The Congress party has fielded T Narsa Reddy in Gajwel. He was elected from the constituency on a Congress ticket in 2009.

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BRS leaders are confident that it will be a cakewalk for KCR in Gajwel as the constituency has seen a total transformation since 2014 thanks to several development works undertaken in the last ten years.

In Kamareddy, KCR is being challenged by Telangana Pradesh Congress Committee (TPCC) President A Revanth Reddy, who is also contesting from Kodangal, the constituency which he represented in the past. In 2018, Revanth had suffered defeat from Kodangal in Vikarabad district but was elected to the Lok Sabha from Malkajgiri in 2019.

A bitter critic of KCR, Revanth had challenged him to enter the fray from Kodangal. As this did not happen, he decided to challenge him in Kamareddy.

Senior Congress leader and former minister Mohammed Ali Shabbir -- who was elected twice from Kamareddy in the past and was again an aspirant for the party ticket from there -- has been shifted to the Nizamabad Urban seat to make way for Revanth Reddy.

Kamareddy, with a sizable population of Muslim voters, had been the stronghold of the Congress till the emergence of the TDP in the 1980s. Barring in 1989 and 2004 when Shabbir was elected, TDP won every election till 2012, when TRS wrested the seat from it.

Cash, precious metals, liquor, and other items, worth over Rs 10.35 crore, were seized in Telangana during the electioneering on Sunday.IANS

The BJP has fielded K Venkata Ramana Reddy from Kamareddy. A former chairman of the Zilla Parishad, he is likely to cut into anti-BRS votes.

Overall, it is likely to be a direct fight between KCR and Revanth Reddy. Under the leadership of Revanth, a popular but controversial figure, the Congress is on the upswing, especially after the party's victory in neighbouring Karnataka.

Revanth is trying to queer the pitch for KCR in Kamareddy with his allegation that KCR is eyeing the lands of Kamareddy, which is located close to the Hyderabad-Nagpur highway.

Last year, the government had mooted a new master plan for Kamareddy, allocating 8 per cent of the land near National Highway 44 for the industrial zone. Following strong opposition from farmers, the government assured them that the new master plan will be abolished.

The BRS is promising Kamareddy voters that if they elect KCR, the constituency will see rapid development and there will be a huge spike in land rates.

(With inputs from IANS)