The rocky road to Munugode

Munugode MLA Komatireddy Rajgopal Reddy shows his resignation letter in Hyderabad on August 8, 2022.

Munugode MLA Komatireddy Rajgopal Reddy shows his resignation letter in Hyderabad on August 8, 2022. | Photo Credit: The Hindu

With another Assembly by-election becoming a certainty in Telangana with the resignation of Munugode MLA Komatireddy Rajgopal Reddy from the Congress, the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS), the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have moved into battle mode.

Mr. Rajgopal Reddy is set to re-contest the seat, but this time on a BJP ticket. Incensed by this move, Congress leaders have alleged that he has ditched the party only to protect his business interests. Telangana Pradesh Congress Committee (TPCC) president A. Revanth Reddy has said that it is necessary for the party to retain the seat as part of the process to “end the ‘family rule’ in the State and to restore democracy”, which he claims is under threat under the TRS government.

The Congress is worried that Mr. Rajgopal Reddy’s brother, Komatireddy Venkata Reddy, a considerable influence in the district, will stay away from the campaigning and discreetly support his younger brother. Mr. Venkata Reddy had announced that he won’t be part of the poll campaign until the TPCC chief apologises to him and expels the Congress spokesperson who had made abusive remarks against him. While Mr. Revanth Reddy did apologise, it remains doubtful whether Mr. Venkata Reddy will actively campaign for the Congress nominee at the cost of his brother’s political future. For the Congress, winning the seat is, therefore, a matter of prestige. After all, the combined Nalgonda district has been its bastion for decades. But there is lack of unity in the party. The Congress has also had to defer its padayatra after the TPCC chief contracted COVID-19.

For the TRS, winning the seat would help it regain some of its lost glory. The party is holding a rally in Munugode, which will be addressed by Chief Minister and party president K. Chandrasekhar Rao, on August 20. But the TRS is now grappling with dissidence in the party, much like the Congress. As some surveys have indicated an edge to the ruling party, the number of aspirants for the post has gone up. These aspirants are hopeful that a win would also ensure that they were allocated tickets for the next Assembly election. While meetings have been held and assurances have been given to everyone in the party that they will all be recognised in due course, the party is still worried. The Minister for Energy, Jagadish Reddy, has alleged that the BJP, particularly Mr. Rajgopal Reddy, has been stoking dissidence. He has promised that it would be addressed appropriately.

For the BJP, winning the seat would be an example of its growing strength in Telangana. The party is organising a public meeting, to be addressed by Union Home Minister Amit Shah, on August 21. The BJP barely has a presence in this area and needs to build a cadre base as well as identify leaders. The party may be hoping that Mr. Rajgopal Reddy’s move might trigger more defections.

Also read | TRS leadership takes steps to douse dissidence in Munugode

The election will also see the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) under former IPS officer Dr. R.S. Praveen Kumar testing the waters. The YSR Telangana Party, led by former Chief Minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy’s daughter Y.S. Sharmila; the Telugu Desam Party, which still has a vote bank and sympathisers; and the Left parties, particularly the CPI, which has won the seat many times in the past with support from other parties, will also be in the fray. The by-election will thus be a litmus test for all the major parties.

The BJP is keen to prove that its rise in Telangana is no fluke; the Congress is keen to reiterate its claim that it is the true alternative to the TRS; and the TRS wants to assert that it still holds sway over the Telangana electorate in spite of some losses in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections and in the by-elections to the Dubbak and Huzurabad Assembly seats.

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Printable version | Aug 18, 2022 1:36:57 am |