Hyderabad: Financing a Lok Sabha seat doesn’t come cheap. Spare cash of around Rs 30 crore-Rs 50 crore is the estimated amount required for those with parliamentary aspirations. So industrialists, contractors and other moneybags are prominent among the contenders for tickets in the next Lok Sabha polls.
The four major political parties in the state — the Congress, Telugu Desam, YSR Congress and the Telangana Rashtra Samiti — are on the lookout for such “strong” candidates.
Parties field candidates based on caste, religion, loyalty and winnability for the Assembly seats, but look for those with deep pockets for Lok Sabha seats.
Each Lok Sabha candidate in the coming polls will be expected to spend a minimum of Rs 20 crore for the election campaign, a minimum of Rs 15 crore to finance the seven Assembly candidates within his jurisdiction and another Rs 5 crore to Rs 10 crore towards the “party fund” for getting the ticket.
Rich aspirants find political favour
The influx of industrialists and contractors into the political field, though not a new phenomenon, is set to increase substantially in the coming elections going by the present search by top leaders of parties.
“Everybody knows that expectations of winning are very high for the TRS in Telangana and the YSRC in the rest of the state, but their trend of bringing in more contractors and industrialists and dumping money in elections will enourage other parties, too, to go for moneyed people at the cost of genuine leaders,” admitted a senior leader from the Telugu Desam.
At a meeting held three days ago at Telangana Bhavan, Telangana Rashtra Samiti chief K. Chandrasekhar Rao openly declared to TRS leaders that he will have to field moneyed people for the Lok Sabha seats in order to compete with other party candidates.
He also told them that the YSR Congress leader Puvvada Ajay who runs the Mamata institutions will join the TRS and contest from Khammam.
Ajay denied this the next day and said he was contesting for the Khammam Assembly seat on a YSRC ticket.
Though there are several senior party leaders like Ramalinga Reddy, R. Satyanarayana and Raghunandan Rao in the TRS who are obvious candidates, Rao is looking for moneyed people in Medak district.
For example, for the Malkajagiri Lok Sabha seat, he had originally planned to propose former TD MP Mr Chada Suresh Reddy. Now that Suresh Reddy has been expelled from the party, Rao is looking to Mallareddy who runs many educational institutions in the city.
Bheem Rao Patel (Zaheerabad), A.P. Jitender Reddy (Mahbubnagar), Laxman Naik (Adilabad), Konda Visweswar Reddy, grandson of former deputy chief minister Konda Venkata Ranga Reddy (Chevella), Kotta Prabhakar Reddy (Dubbaka Assembly), and Dr Narsaiah Gowd (Bhongir) are some of the names doing the rounds.
When it comes to the YSR Congress, the list is exhaustive, but still inconclusive: Vallabhaneni Balasowri (Guntur), Ramky Ayodhya Rami Reddy (Narasaraopet), Kukkala Nageswara Rao (Machilipatnam), Mekapati Rajamohan Reddy (Nellore), Atluri Prasad (Vijayawada), and Ch. Suneel (Kakinada).
According to a senior leader of the party, “Though it is a fact that all parties are in search of moneyed people, many industrialists may not like to surface now. If they come and start working now, they will be targeted by political opponents and also party cadres will start fleecing them for money rightaway. I believe more and more moneyed people will join closer to the time of the polls.”
The Congress has always attracted moneyed candidates such as its sitting MPs, Rayapati Sambasiva Rao (Guntur), K.S. Rao (Eluru), Maganti Srinivasulu Reddy (Ongole), the Daggubati couple, S.P.Y. Reddy, and Kanumuri Bapiraju.
It looks like not many of the rich and famous are beating a path towards the TD as of now. The party has its share of them such as Nama Nageswara Rao (Khammam), actor Murali Mohan (Rajahmundry), M.V.V.S. Murthy (Vizag), Maganti Babu (Eluru), but not too many new ones are clamouring to join up. “Currently, we may not get potential persons; they may come at the time of elections, hopefully sensing a positive trend for the party,” said a Telugu Desam leader.
Telugu Desam chief Chandrababu Naidu recently announced that the well-off Kesineni Nani will be the Vijayawada Lok Sabha segment in-charge. Nani has a transport business and recently arranged for 125 buses to ply from Vijayawada to Visakhapatnam for the concluding function of Naidu’s padayatra.