At Telangana nerve centre, new state brings new hope

Barely 100 km from Hyderabad, Siddipet, in Medak district, represents the dreams of the people of Telangana and their quest for growth opportunities.

On the fringes of urbanisation, Siddipet was at the forefront of the Telangana agitation, its students and youth leading the fight, many of them committing suicide in frustration. It is also the place where K Chandrasekhar Rao (popularly known as KCR) sowed the seed of a renewed Telangana movement before launching Telangana Rashtra Samiti in 2001.

For many years, the people of Siddipet assembly constituency dreamt of adequate drinking water, irrigation facilities for farmers, a university, and a medical college, but felt cheated as the much-needed water was diverted to the coastal districts and there was no improvement in the higher education infrastructure.

Now that Telangana state is nearing reality, the people are eager to vote to see their wishes fulfilled. Siddipet is also home to KCR’s family. From 1985 to 2001, KCR represented the Siddipet constituency, while his nephew T Harish Rao has represented it since 2004. Despite this, Siddipet had to look towards the fast-developing Hyderabad — a two-hour drive away — for everything, from higher education and medical facilities to, most importantly, jobs.

“We want higher education facilities, a medical college, job opportunities and water for our farmers,’’ says G Vijay Kumar, principal of Master Minds Junior College.

Siddipet also has the only official memorial to those who died for the cause of Telangana. A huge monument stands at the Siddipet junction as a reminder of the sacrifices made during the agitation for a separate state.

“There is a strong sentiment here that Siddipet should either be made district headquarters or a separate district. It is not far from Hyderabad, there is immense scope to develop industry here, provided water supply is improved,’’ says academician Shivaranjan Reddy. Siddipet is most prosperous town in Medak district with several rice mills, oil mills and over 200 poultry farms.

Harish Rao, 42, the winning candidate in 2004, 2009, and in the 2010 by-election — when his margin of victory was a record 95,000 votes — is popular among the youth. Emerging from under KCR’s shadow, Harish Rao charted his own path during the agitation, often overshadowing the efforts of other party members.

Though the TRS is yet to come out with its list of candidates, Harish is expected to contest again from Siddipet.

“I want Siddipet to have a university and a medical college. I have already applied to the Centre for grant of university under RUSA (Rashtriya Uchchatar Shiksha Abhiyan — National Higher Education Mission),” says Harish Rao.

And, he is confident of a record-breaking victory this time too. “It is not only about Telangana. I have also worked hard in this constituency and the TRS will form the first Telangana government,” he adds.

The Congress and the BJP are finding it difficult to get a candidate who can even put up a reasonable fight against Harish Rao.

“People of Siddipet are passionate about Telangana and are strong supporters of Harish and the TRS. We will find someone to contest against him but it will be a difficult task,’’ says a member of the newly appointed Telangana Pradesh Congress Committee.