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Telangana by-poll: BJP fields strong candidate, TRS employs all its might and how Congress vote bank may decide the gap between TRS and BJP

The contest in Munugodu constituency in 2018 was primarily between the Congress party and the TRS. The BJP came a very distant 3rd and lost its deposit too. However, the BJP has picked up in Telangana ever since their debacle in the 2018 election.

In the 2018 Assembly elections in Telangana, the TRS party, led by KCR, won a whopping 88/119 seats. Despite winning a landslide, the TRS displayed an unusual urgency in poaching MLAs from the Congress party. The Congress won 19 seats in the 2018 elections, thereby being eligible for the Leader of the Opposition post. One by one, a total of 12 Congress MLAs were poached by the TRS within just a couple of months of winning this landslide. 1 MLA went on to become an MP in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. In this instance, with 2/3rd of the CLP joining the TRS, there was no need to disqualify the legislators.

KCR did NOT need these 12 MLAs for any support in the Assembly. This move, primarily orchestrated to show the supremacy of KTR, the newly anointed working President of the party, also ensured that there will officially be no leader of opposition in the Telangana Assembly. The torchbearers of democracy weren’t bothered by this blatant suppression of the people’s mandate though. But we divert, so let’s get back to the premise of this article. 

Out of the 6 MLAs who have stayed back with the Congress, the MLA from Munugodu constituency, Komatireddy Rajagopal Reddy recently resigned from the Congress party (and as an MLA) and joined the BJP. As expected, a by-poll has become necessary and that is now scheduled for November 3rd. The contest in Munugodu constituency in 2018 was primarily between the Congress party and the TRS. The BJP came a very distant 3rd and lost its deposit too. However, the BJP has picked up in Telangana ever since their debacle in the 2018 election.

In a record, The BJP won 4 Lok Sabha seats from Telangana in 2019 (KCR’s daughter was defeated in one of them; KCR’s son was in charge in another!). The BJP went on to defeat the TRS in the all-important GHMC elections (but TRS managed to capture power by allying with MIM post-elections). And then the BJP went on to defeat the TRS in the Dubbaka by-poll (right in the lion’s den!) and in the Huzurabad by-poll. Both these Assembly seats were held by the TRS earlier. 

Munugodu is different in that sense – the seat was held by Congress earlier. This is not the first seat that is going to by-polls where Congress was holding the seat. The then TPCC President, Uttam Kumar Reddy vacated his Huzurnagar assembly seat after getting elected to the Lok Sabha. The TRS won that by-poll. The situation of the Congress party was so bad that they couldn’t win the seat that their own state President won! 

The situation of the Congress party is no different now. In fact, Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo yatra is in going to be in Telangana during the by-poll. If Rahul Gandhi is in Telangana, that means the entire top leadership of the Congress will just be running behind him only, leaving the hapless candidate to fend for herself in Munugodu! We still have 3 weeks to go for the elections and the Congress election campaign is at its peak now. News outlets like The Hindu have already told us that there are “impressive crowds” for Congress meetings – a phrase they never use for BJP even when BJP wins so many elections! With the Congress campaigning bound to taper down from next week onwards, the fight between TRS and BJP will only intensify. 

A clear indication of how strong a fight the BJP is putting up with their candidate, Komatireddy Rajagopal Reddy, is evident from the fact that the TRS has deployed their entire might for this by-poll. KCR has asked 86 of his MLAs to be stationed in the constituency only. This includes all of his ministers. In fact, to show himself as an example of “leading from the front”, KCR himself is in charge of one village in the Munugodu constituency for the by-poll! Just 10 days back, KCR announced the name change of his party from TRS to BRS (Bharat Rashtra Samithi) to reflect his “national” ambitions. That a “national” leader finds it necessary to be in charge of a village in a by-poll, speaks volumes about the nature of the fight ahead! The TRS is clearly rattled by the strength of the BJP. 

The strength of the BJP lies in two factors – first is the candidate himself. Komatireddy Rajagopal Reddy. He is the younger one of the famous “Komatireddy Brothers”! The elder one, Komatireddy Venkat Reddy is an MP from the Congress party (and has been with the Congress for many decades). Rahul Gandhi has been very successful in isolating this powerful Congress family away from the Congress party, adding to his list of sterling achievements! The Komatireddy brothers also own industries that generate direct employment for thousands of families in this area. The goodwill they enjoy and the money power they can deploy if needed are definitely a very good advantage for the BJP.  The second factor for BJP is its increased cadre strength and participation from across the state. The BJP is also putting up their entire might – central ministers will campaign; all state office bearers are stationed in Munugodu to carry out door-to-door campaigning. 

The Congress will still have a vote bank that may end up being the deciding factor in the gap between the TRS and the BJP. An exciting 3 weeks lies ahead for the politics in Telangana. November 6th will definitely alter the course of the political debate in the state. 

Ayodhra Ram Mandir special coverage by OpIndia

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S. Sudhir Kumar
S. Sudhir Kumar
Obsessive eater, Compulsive sleeper, Repulsive Writer

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