After running out of options, distressed turmeric and red jowar farmers had decided to take the ballot route. As many as 176 of them from the Nizamabad Lok Sabha Constituency could secure an aggregate of 94,882 votes.

They all bit the dust but had the last laugh in their defeat. Though all of them lost their deposits, they were indirectly responsible for the defeat of Kalvakuntla Kavitha, daughter of K Chandrashekar Rao, Chief Minister and Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) President.

She lost to D Aravind of the BJP by about 70,000 votes.

The BJP, which fared badly in the recent Assembly elections, sprang a surprise by securing 4.80 lakh votes as against 4.09 lakh votes polled for the TRS. Interestingly, the TRS won 5.75 lakh votes in the seven Assembly constituencies in the December elections.

Why ballot?

Nizamabad is one of the major turmeric hubs in the country. The farmers have been suffering losses because of the ever-dropping prices of the commodity, while the cost of production is seeing a steep rise.

To avoid the volatility and the uncertainty, they have been demanding the government to establish a Turmeric Board on the lines of Tobacco Board that regulates the tobacco crop and market.

The State government argued that the Centre should take a call, while successive governments at the Centre turned a blind eye.

“After all our efforts failed, we decided to contest the Lok Sabha polls in order to attract the attention of the nation to our problems,” a farmer from Armoor said.

Their ploy worked. the Nizamabad LS constituency hit national headlines as 185 candidates filed their nominations, including 176 by protesting farmers.

“Initially they took us lightly, but they sensed trouble later. Local leaders from the ruling party did approach us, asking us to withdraw our nominations, but they gave us no specific assurance. So we went ahead,” he said.

How they fared

The highest votes were secured by V Lachhanna — 6,000. Another 20 farmers secured votes in the range of 1,000 to 3,000 and the rest in double or triple digits. But as a bloc, the 176 contesting farmers amassed 98,000 votes, good enough to snatch a possible victory for Kavitha.

The TRS alleged that they did have political connections and contested the poll with an ulterior motive to mar Kavitha’s prospects.