Surabhi Vani (centre), the TRS MLC candidate
Surabhi Vani (centre), the TRS MLC candidate

The Congress party has long forgotten former Prime Minister PV Narasimha Rao. The BJP, especially Prime Minister Narendra Modi, remembers him only during the elections and when he visits Telangana, to recall how the Congress party, especially Sonia Gandhi, insulted the former PM. The state Congress leadership has no time to talk about PV.

But strangely, PV is now the latest buzzword for the elections to the Hyderabad-Rangareddy-Mahboobnagar Graduates' MLC Constituency. The ruling TRS party and its chief, K Chandrasekhar Rao, have made PV’s daughter Surabhi Vani the TRS candidate for the polls. As is his wont, KCR announced her name at the last minute, sending shockwaves in the BJP, which is now trying to find a foothold in the state. This move also took the Congress by surprise, as it never thought of any PV family member getting into active politics now.

Brahmin candidates

KCR has another reason to select Vani for the graduates' constitutency. The BJP’s candidate is Ramachandra Rao, a practising advocate and former MLC and the Telangana Jana Samithi (TJS) candidate is K Dilip Kumar, a former aide of K Chandrasekhar Rao. Since both the BJP and TJC candidates are from the Brahmin community, the TRS president and CM KCR was forced to field a Brahmin candidate.

A member from PV’s family seems to be the best choice. The Telangana CM had declared 2020 the centenary year of PV and the government had organised programmes, events all over the state, the country and across the globe, commemorating the rich contributions made by PV to the two Telugu states, as well as the country. PV still enjoys popularity among the teachers in the state.

The candidature of Vani for the graduates' MLC seat put the All India Majlis Ittehadul-e-Muslimeen (AIMIM) in a fix. Known for their unofficial alliance with the TRS and its chief KCR, the AIMIM President Asaduddin Owaisi, till date has not been able to announce whom his party would support. Barrister Asad is not in a position to declare his party’s support to Vaani, the TRS nominee, as he had campaigned against PV and declared on many occasions in public platforms that it was PV who was responsible for the demolition of the Babri Masjid. And Asad can never support a BJP nominee nor throw his weight around the TJS, which came out of the TRS.

Low-profile Vani

As for the BJP, it cannot launch a direct political attack on Vani nor can it make any allegations against her. Vani and her family members always maintained a low profile even when PV was the Prime Minister. Until her name was officially announced by the TRS president KCR, Vani had confined herself to the educational institutions that she owns and manages.

The fact remains that Vani has several other disadvantages (lacks money and muscle power) as an MLC candidate. Will she be able to win the elections? The answer is not easy. Due to other factors, it may not be an easy win for her. But unconfirmed reports suggest that KCR has promised Vani that even if she loses the seat, she will be given a nominated post.

The state Congress leadership, which is fast becoming a non-entity in Telangana state politics, having nothing to say about Vani’s candidature, found fault with the TRS party for not considering her name for a nominated post.

Whatever may be the reason, it is nice to see PV Narasimha Rao’s name and likeness being used in a big way on banners, placards, cutouts, hoardings, billboards, and pamphlets. Once again, PV has appeared in graduates' constituency polls! Though it must be remembered, when he had himself contested, he never used his name or image, as is evident now.

To council, with love!

In Andhra Pradesh, elections for the MLC seats under the MLAs' category were one-sided. The ruling YSR Congress party in AP won all the six seats in the state legislative council without any election, taking the YSRCP strength in the 58-member council to 20. On Thursday, the last day for the filing of nominations for the six MLC seats under MLAs’ quota, only YSRC candidates filed their papers, while the opposition Telugu Desam Party stayed away from the contest, for want of enough numbers in the assembly to field candidates. As a result, the YSRC candidates, Balli Kalyan Chakravarthy, Challa Bhagiratha Reddy, Mohammad Iqbal, Duvvada Srinivas, C Ramachandraiah and Kareemunnisa have been elected to the state’s legislative council unanimously.

Since CM Jaganmohan Reddy’s YSRCP party had the majority of MLAs, it was a one-sided win. Ironically, it was CM Jaganmohan Reddy who had fought tooth and nail for the abolition of the dtate legislative council. He made the legislative assembly pass a resolution recommending for the abolition of the council and sent it to the Centre. In the 58-member House, the YSRC, in the past, had faced legislative hurdles in the council and it could not push important legislations, due to opposition from the Telugu Desam Party that then enjoyed a majority.

Earlier, Jaganmohan Reddy would insist that his party MPs in the Parliament should raise the matter of council abolition during the parliamentary sessions. Of late, he has not been talking about it. Perhaps he has realised the need for the council to accommodate his party leaders.

In contrast, former popular actor-turned-AP CM NT Rama Rao had utter contempt for the legislative council and had abolished it in the late 80s when he was in power. During his entire regime, NTR did not make any attempt to revive the council, despite pressure from his own party leaders. It was after the Congress came to power in 1989 that the Council was revived in 1990.

The writer is a senior journalist based in Hyderabad.

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