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`Revolution' is still in the air

By D. Chandra Bhaskar Rao


KHAMMAM DISTRICT

Assembly constituencies: 9

Lok Sabha seats: 2 (Khammam and

Bhadrachalam ST)

Voters: 16,69,023

Men: 8,28,278

Women: 8,40,745

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STEEPED IN the history of communists, Khammam is still being looked upon as the hotbed of revolutionaries. It has a heavily wooded hill range dotted with the habitations that seem placid and very ancient for all purposes. The primitive tribal groups that live in hill-top hamlets could hardly keep track of the elections and elected representatives. Khammam was nurtured very well by Jalagam Vengala Rao during his tenure as Chief Minister, and continues to be.

The coal town of Kothagudem, seat of the Singareni Collieries, and the trade unionism that is predominant in the collieries had a bearing on the electorate as well. Almost all principal political parties, including the left wing groups, have a strong following among coalminers in the Yellandu, Manuguru and Kothagudem areas.

It had always been the communists versus the Congress in the district till the Telugu Desam came on stage in 1983. The communist movement, which had grown as an offshoot of the Telangana armed struggle, dominated the arena of politics even after their split in 1964 .The CPI and the CPI(M) developed strong support base among agriculture labourers and poor peasants who formed about 70 per cent of the voters.

The Telugu Desam Party had won only one of the 9 Assembly seats when Koneru Nageswar Rao defeated Chekuri Kasaiah of the Congress.


In 1985, as allies, the Left parties helped the TDP bag the Kothagudem and Sathupalli seats. The CPI(M) won Madhira, Bhadrachalam, Palair and Khammam while the CPI bagged Sujathanagar. The Congress and the CPI(ML Prajapandha) bagged Burgumpadu and Yellandu respectively. The tide turned against the TDP in 1989, it being blanked out.

The communist parties distanced themselves from the Telugu Desam in 1999. The CPI drew a blank in the election.

Even the CPI strongman, Puvvada Nageswara Rao, had lost the Khammam seat to Younis Sultan of the Congress. The CPI(M) could retain only its Bhadrachalam seat, one of the two it won in the State.

The Congress, which made major gains in the district, had defeated the CPI(M) in Palair, the CPI in Sujathanagar. But the Telugu Desam had for the first time improved its tally to three. Yellandu (ST) had been the stronghold of the CPI(ML New Democracy. The party leader, Gummadi Narsaiah, had won the last four of five elections from the constituency.


The Telugu Desam Party, which at one time found itself sandwiched between the CPI and CPI(M), could make substantial gains in the district after snapping ties with the Left. It could build a strong cadre base in Khammam.

So far as the two Lok Sabha seats are concerned, Renuka Chowdhury of the Congress won the Khammam seat in a triangular contest in the last election while the TDP's Dumpa Mary Vijayakumari had a convincing win in Bhadrachalam (ST) constituency.

The Dummugudem lift irrigation scheme on the Godavari promised by the Government would be one of the issues to figure prominently in the election campaign.

The lift was proposed to extend irrigation facility to over 2 lakh acres. The first phase of the scheme was designed to cover part of Sathupalli and the adjoining pockets in the neighbouring coastal districts.

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