With the announcement of schedule for by-election to Munugode Assembly seat, top leaders of all the three major political players in Telangana went into a huddle to finalise their poll strategy.
Slated to be held on November 3, the by-election is considered prestigious for all the three major parties ahead of next year’s Assembly elections.
As the outcome of the bypoll is likely to give a psychological advantage to the winner in the run up to the big battle, ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) and both major opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Congress will be pulling all stops to capture Munugode.
Since the vacancy arose due to the defeat of sitting MLA of Congress party who switched loyalties to the BJP, both the parties will be desperate for a victory. As the BJP is upbeat after wresting two Assembly seats from the TRS in as many years, the ruling party will also go all out to stop the saffron surge.
Komatireddy Rajagopal Reddy, who resigned as MLA and also quit the Congress party two months ago, joined the BJP on August 21 in the presence of Union Home Minister Amit Shah at a public meeting in Munugode.
During his speech at the public meeting, Amit Shah had appealed to the people of the Assembly constituency elect Rajagopal Reddy and remarked that after his win TRS government will collapse in no time.
“You elect Reddy in the by-election, I will guarantee that the corrupt government of KCR will collapse in no time,” he had said.
The home minister had said it was not merely joining of one leader into the BJP, but it was the beginning of the end of KCR government
Last month, the Congress party announced Palvai Sravanthi as its candidate for the by-election. She is the daughter of former MP Palvai Govardhan Reddy.
The 49-year-old along with her supporters has been reaching out to voters in the villages across the constituency.
Telangana state Congress chief A. Revanth Reddy and other senior leaders have already addressed a few meetings in the constituency. The party hopes that the entry of its leader Rahul Gandhi’s ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’ in Telangana in the next few days will give impetus to its campaign.
Soon after the Election Commission of India (ECI) announced the bypoll schedule, TRS president and Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao reportedly finalised their candidate.
In recent weeks the ruling party camp in the constituency saw intense speculation due to several aspirants staking claim for the ticket. KCR has reportedly picked up senior leader Kusukuntla Prabhakar Reddy.
The TRS chief is likely to announce the name at a meeting of party legislators on October 5. According to party sources, he has already given clear instructions to the party leaders that they should ensure victory in the by-election.
In a shot in the arm for TRS, both the CPI and CPI-M have declared their support for the ruling party in Munugode. The leaders of both the Left parties said they have done this to ensure BJP’s defeat.
KCR, who visited a public meeting in the constituency a day before Amit Shah’s rally, is likely to address an election meeting next week.
He has reportedly entrusted the responsibility of the TRS campaign to 100 MLAs, MLCs and MPs.
After wresting Dubbak and Huzurabad from TRS in 2020 and 2021 respectively, the BJP is keen to score a hat-trick of bypoll victories. The contest in Munugode is being seen as a semi-final by the major players ahead of the next year’s Assembly elections.
After failing to retain Huzurnagar seat in 2019 and wrest Nagarjuna Sagar from TRS last year, the Congress party is also desperate for a win.
The by-election in Huzurnagar was caused by the resignation of Uttam Kumar Reddy after he was elected to Lok Sabha in 2019 while Nagarjuna Sagar seat fell vacant after the demise of a sitting legislator of TRS. Both the seats were won by the TRS.
The Congress party, which lost a dozen MLAs to TRS after 2018 elections, fared badly in the by-elections for Dubbak and Huzurabad, which were wrested by the BJP from TRS.
BJP’s Raghunandan Rao had won Dubbak in 2020 by a narrow margin of 1,079 votes against TRS candidate S. Sujatha, widow of S. Ramalinga Reddy whose death had caused the bypoll.
This victory gave new confidence to the BJP, which had won just one seat in the 119-member Assembly in the 2018 elections.
The BJP received a shot in the arm after Eatala Rajender joined its rank after he was dropped from the state Cabinet by KCR following allegations that he encroached lands of some farmers. Rajender resigned from the Huzurabad seat and contested the by-election as a BJP candidate.
Riding on the popularity of Rajender in the constituency, BJP won the by-election, dealing a big blow to the TRS.
The BJP now hopes that like Rajender, Rajagopal Reddy will give the party a big victory in Munugode to bolster its prospects in the next year’s elections.
The party’s national executive in Hyderabad in July and a massive public meeting addressed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Amit Shah, BJP President J.P. Nadda has already boosted the morale of BJP cadres in the state.
Several BJP leaders, including Union ministers and chief ministers of other states have visited Telangana during the last two months. The coming days are likely to see top leaders of the saffron party making a beeline to Munugode.