Telangana

An interesting battle of the ballot in the offing

Komatireddy brothers - Rajagopal Reddy and Venkata Reddy greeting supporters after the press meet on August 4, 2022.

Komatireddy brothers - Rajagopal Reddy and Venkata Reddy greeting supporters after the press meet on August 4, 2022. | Photo Credit: Singam Venkataramana

Elections to the Telangana Assembly are scheduled in December next year, clearly 17 months away unless TRS president and Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao opts for an early election like in the previous term. But a by-election appears to be likely in Munugode constituency soon.

Congress MLA Komatireddy Raj Gopal Reddy has announced his intentions to quit the party and his Assembly seat bringing into focus the scope for an imminent bypoll. Things will become clear after Mr. Reddy, who dropped enough hints of joining the BJP, meets Speaker Pocharam Srinivas Reddy and submits his resignation.

The announcement has certainly heightened the political temperature in the State where calculations on the strengths and weaknesses of the ruling party as well as the opposition in the event of an early election have become the order of the day. 

The TRS will try to show it is still a powerhouse and the BJP wants to show its graph is on the ascendant while the Congress desperately wants to retain the seat it has won in spite of a sort of TRS’ wave in the last elections.

Given the intense political activity witnessed in the past few months, the poll is seen as a prestigious one by all the major contenders. TRS can ill-afford to lose the by-election which could send a negative signal to the electorate that its support base is on the wane. For the Congress, the ignominy of conceding sitting seat will weigh heavily in its determined bid to come to power in the 2023 elections. 

For the BJP, which is slowly but steadily expanding its footprint, this will be a litmus test if Mr. Raj Gopal Reddy is party nominee in the bypoll.

The BJP claims it will be a repeat of Huzurabad in Munugode though it is yet to build a strong network at the grassroots level and will have to totally bank on the image of Mr Raj Gopal Reddy as it did in case of Eatala Rajender in Huzurabad. 

How it will tackle the stiff resistance from its senior leader G. Manohar Reddy and others to the entry of Mr. Raj Gopal Reddy will be interesting to watch. The party is well aware of the ground situation and has to carefully weigh the purported campaign that the TRS Government’s step-motherly treatment alone has led to the constituency not witnessing any visible development. 

Mr. Reddy, a first time MLA, does enjoy clout in the constituency but whether all his followers in the Congress will sail with him is to be seen. Coming to the Congress, the party now has to scout for a suitable candidate to fight the polls and at the same time keep its flock together to avoid large-scale defections from mandal to the village levels.

TRS anticipating the bypoll has already started playing its cards with Nalgonda district minister G. Jagadish Reddy put in charge to attract defectors from the two rival parties. 

Caste polarisation and social engineering could play a major role in the bypoll with the dominant Reddy community leaders from all three parties aspiring for the ticket. But, the influence of BC communities like Gouds and Yadavs besides the Dalits cannot be ignored as they form the major chunk of the electorate.

It may be a shot in the arm for the BJP to have a sitting MLA from the rival party on its side but the euphoria will last only if Mr. Reddy is able to retain the seat as TRS and Congress are not going to throw in the towel easily. An interesting ballot battle is in the offing


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Printable version | Sep 24, 2022 6:34:45 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/telangana/an-interesting-battle-of-the-ballot-in-the-offing/article65721804.ece