Video Editor: Mohd Irshad Alam
Mythreyee Ramesh, Smitha TK
As the city of Hyderabad fades and the roads of Gajwel begin, posters of Telangana Rashtra Samithi chief and the state’s first Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao welcome you. Wide four-lane roads dotted with LED streetlights lead into the town.
Gajwel is located in Telangana’s Siddipet district, just 70 kilometers away from the state capital Hyderabad. Considered a Congress stronghold for decades, KCR turned the tables when he won the 2014 state Assembly elections from this seat.
One of KCR’s promises was to make Gajwel a model constituency. As the 2018 Assembly election nears, are the people of the town happy with the CM’s work, and will they reward him with the second term? The Quint finds out.
‘Gajwel Has Raced 50 Years Ahead’
“Gajwel has raced 50 years ahead because of the last four years. We have become a municipality,” said Sai Krishna, a shopkeeper whose family has been living in Gajwel for generations.
In the last four years, Gajwel has undergone a makeover. The city centre is bustling with a state-of-the-art hospital that provides treatment to over a thousand patients on a daily basis.
A few metres from the hospital, is the integrated market where farmers can sell their produce.
"“Life was different four years ago. We had to go to the tanker to get water for everyday use. But now, mission Bhagiratha has ensured continuous water supply. We also have power supply 24×7.”" - Sampath, Resident
An Education Hub in The Town
The KCR government has established an education hub in the constituency, under its flagship ‘KG to PG’ scheme, so students can start and end their educational journey in one campus.
One of the 204 minority residential schools for girls is located in this constituency.
"“The government is very supportive because they are providing infrastructure such as bunker cots, desks, geysers, incinerators, textbooks, notebooks, uniforms and everything.”" - K Sathyanarayana Reddy, Principal, Telangana Minorities Residential School for Girls
A ‘Model Constituency’ But the Issues Remain
However, it is claimed that not all people have benefited from the schemes. From the lack of jobs for the educated youth to agricultural distress, there are plenty of concerns in Gajwel that go beyond infrastructural projects.
"“He (KCR) kept saying he will give us a two-bedroom house. I am not even talking of the quality of the houses but many people have not got anything yet.”" - Resident, Gajwel
"“I am 77 years old and I still don’t get any pension. They are giving Rs 4,000 per acre for farmers, right? Yes, he is giving us that but it doesn’t really benefit the people who have just 1-2 acres of land. It benefits only those who have 100 acres.”" - Resident, Gajwel "“Degree-holders are upset that there aren’t job opportunities. So we need jobs for students.” " - Resident, Gajwel
KCR vs Local Strongman Pratap Reddy
Although a section of people fear that another government could shelve the schemes of the KCR-led government, there are reasons for the chief minister to be worried.
Local strongman and Congress candidate Pratap Reddy, who has been campaigning in the area even before he was declared the candidate, has refusing to give up without a fight.
Reddy, a Telugu Desam Party defector, is widely considered to be approachable and in touch with the ground reality.
"“He (KCR) has made an education hub in Gajwel. But a child in a village here needs to walk 4 kilometres to go there. It’s very difficult for girls. So the public isn’t happy. He built a ring road but the land below it belonged to the farmers. He even failed to give them compensation.”" - Pratap Reddy, Congress Leader
While KCR is admired in his constituency, his return to the seat could be tricky. In 2014, KCR got 86,694 votes and won with a margin of only 19,000 votes.
Notably, the Congress secured 67,303 votes and TDP’s Narsa Reddy polled about 34,085 votes. In theory, the ‘Prajakutami’ of the Congress and the TDP could be a reason for worry.
Gajwel’s record is not too encouraging either. Since 1978, no sitting MLA of Gajwel has been elected for a second term. If KCR wins, he will be defeating the odds. The question remains: Will he?
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