Women in red sarees and men clad in red T-shirts lined up in Kusumanji village to listen to Thammineni Veerabhadram as he addressed them atop a vehicle that sported red flags. The former MP is the CPM candidate in Paleru, an Assembly constituency in the Khammam Lok Sabha segment.
The Khammam district in Telangana was once the CPM's stronghold, where it had won seven out of the 10 Assembly constituencies.
The CPM is going alone in the November 30 election to the Telangana Assembly after the seat-sharing talks with the Congress failed. It has fielded candidates in 19 constituencies, mostly in Khammam and Nalgonda districts where the Congress has an upper hand.
The Congress is not worried about the CPM candidates. The party leaders feel the CPM could not dent its vote share.
In 2018, the CPM contested the polls in alliance with a few other parties under the Bahujan Left Front banner. Though its candidates garnered 5,000 to 20,000 votes, they failed to prevent the Congress from winning eight constituencies.
In Paleru, where Veerabhadram is seeking the mandate, the CPM had won 6,769 votes in 2018, but failed when the Congress won a margin of 7,669 votes.
The CPM was hoping for an alliance with the BRS. It and the CPI had supported the BRS in the Munugode bypoll, which the ruling party won. The BRS supremo and Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao even declared that the party would have a tie-up with the left. He, however, did not keep his word, forcing the CPM and CPI to seek an alliance with the Congress.
Rao made the announcement at an event attended by Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and CPI national General Secretary D Raja. The BRD, however, went back on its word, and announced candidates in all seats.
Talks with the Congress did not help the CPM. The CPI agreed to the one-seat formula the Congress offered, but the CPM decided to go alone in 19 seats. Veerabhadram told Manorama that the party is highligting its struggle to win title deeds for the lands of tribespeople.
When pointed out that party secretaries normally did not contest the polls, Veerabhadram smiled. "This is my third term as the state secretary, and I have one more year in the post. The party decided that I should contest," he said before boarding the campaign vehicle.