Brewing dissent among weavers to decide fate of K T Rama Rao in Sircilla assembly segment

Brewing dissent among weavers to decide fate of K T Rama Rao in Sircilla assembly segment

Sircilla (T'gana), Nov 22 (PTI) From being known for weavers' suicide prior to formation of Telangana state, Sircilla assembly constituency has come a long way in 10 years of the BRS rule but now faces dissent from the weavers' community whose support will decide the fate of Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao's son K T Rama Rao.

Weavers' community called 'Padmashalis' constitute majority of the 2.43 lakh voters in Sircilla from where Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) working president and Industries Minister Rao is contesting for the fourth consecutive time. Being a weaver's dominated constituency, their support is important to ensure the victory of any candidate.

While weavers have overcome the scourge of suicides, there appears to be discontent over implementation of the 'Bathukamma Saree' scheme and other special schemes launched for empowerment of the community. With increased cost of living amid rising inflation people's demand and expectations from the government have only risen election after election.

'Under the Bathukamma Saree programme, we get work for only three months and remaining nine months we are jobless... the inflation has gone up. We are unable to pay the rent and buy essentials with meager income. ...We will vote for the party which will ensure us work for the entire year,' powerloom worker Ramachandra Rampar told PTI.

The Bathukamma Saree scheme was launched in 2017 with a noble twin goal to support the weavers and to present a small gift to the women. The programme was introduced to give much-needed reassurance to the weavers, who were in a crisis. Under the scheme, powerloom workers are paid Rs 5,000 per week for 12 hours of daily shift.

When the programme was launched, there used to be work for six months and now it has reduced to three months, rued Srinivas, another powerloom worker.

'KTR says he has brought this scheme for us... it should be there for 7-8 months at least. If we get work for a full year, we will ensure his victory,' he added.

Several powerloom workers complain that they have to struggle to get the yarn subsidy and benefits from other welfare schemes. For instance, there are Dalits in the weavers community as well, but the Dalit Bandhu scheme is not reaching them. Even the pension is not provided to powerloom workers.

'The government had promised that powerloom workers would be made owners but it has not been implemented in 10 years. We demand that this be implemented,' said another powerloom worker Venkatesh.

Dissent among weavers seems to be brewing in the constituency giving enough ammunition to the Congress and BJP in their campaign.

Congress candidate K K Mahender Reddy (62), who is contesting for the fourth time against KTR, is reaching out weavers' community with a promise to set up a yarn depot that will solve major problems in Sircilla, while BJP candidate Rani Rudrama Reddy is promising a powerloom cluster.

With introduction of Bathukamma Saree programme, the powerloom weavers and other ancillary workers have lost jobs. 'Earlier, there used to be 37,000 powerlooms. Out of which, 18,000 have been sold to scrap due to the government's wrong policy,' he claimed.

Mahender Reddy, also an advocate, claimed that the ruling government took away AAY cards given to weavers during the Congress regime. Even plots allotted to the poor weavers in Indira nagar, BY nagar, Sundaranagar, Venkayapet, Rajiv Nagar and Textile park are not registered yet.

'About 10,000 plots were given by the Congress. The BRS promised to register those plots, but it has not done so far. That is affecting the people. So, they want to vote against him,' he said.

KTR won the assembly poll from Sircilla for the first time in 2009 by defeating independent candidate Mahender Reddy with a margin of just 171 votes. He retained the constituency in 2014 by defeating Congress candidate Konduru Ravinder Rao with a massive margin of over 53,000 votes. In the 2018, KTR again won the seat against Mahender Reddy (Congress) with a record margin of over 89,000 votes In the current elections, KTR is again facing Mahender Reddy from Congress. BJP spokesperson Rani Rudrama Reddy is also in fray. All are vying for a pie in the Padmasalis vote bank of around 60,000.

With Independent candidate from the weavers' community Lagisetty Srinivas in the contest, it is interesting to see on which side weavers' votes will swing.

Srinivas who has a firm hold over the weavers' community was initially in BRS and later switched over to the BJP this year. After he was denied a ticket from BJP, Srinivas is contesting as Independent candidate.

Congress and BJP candidates belong to Reddy community whose voter strength is around 23,000 in Sircilla, while KTR's Velama caste voters are only 4,000.

However, a section of people feel that the KTR will take the sting out of the dissent and win the election but with a narrow margin. PTI LUX ROH

Disclaimer: This story is auto-generated feed.

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