Huzurabad: Congress may derail TRS, but stands to lose most

Hyderabad: The upcoming Huzurabad by-election on October 30 is mostly touted to be a direct contest between the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) and ex-TRS health minister Eatala Rajender, who is currently with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). However, the Congress, which has put up NSUI president Venkat Balmoor as its candidate, will be in a tricky position, especially given that this bypoll is likely to set the tone for the 2023 state elections.

The NSUI, or National Students Union of India, is the Congress’s student wing. Balmoor, who will be contesting his first election, has also generally been very active with regard to taking up student issues in the state.

In the upcoming Huzurabad bypoll, which will be held on October 30, the TRS’s candidate is local partyman Gellu Srinivas Yadav, who will be facing-off BJP’s Eatala Rajender. In the previous 2018 state elections, Rajender secured 104469 votes, with Congress candidate P. Kaushik Reddy getting 60604 votes. The BJP’s Raghu Puppala got a paltry 1670 votes. In the 2018 state elections, the BJP also won just one out of 119 seats.

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However, things are very different now, as Kaushik Reddy has joined the TRS, and is waiting for his MLC nomination to be cleared by Telangana’s governor Tamilisai Soundararajan. With the bypoll primarily being seen as a clash between TRS supremo (and chief minister) K. Chandrasekhar Rao (KCR) and Rajender, it will be interesting to watch how Congress fares, especially given the fact that it has put up a relatively new face.

Analysts believe that it is unlikely that the Congress will get the same votes as it did last time, when it was seen as the natural opposition to the ruling TRS. “If the party does not get around 50,000 seats this time, then it means it is not the natural opposition as well, and that it is losing space to the BJP. However, the overall big statement being made by state Congress chief Revanth Reddy is that a young person is being given a chance. He had promised the same when he was made TPCC president earlier this year,” said political analyst Palwai Raghavendra Reddy.

“It looks like the situation is favourable for Eatala this time. It is actually a double-edged sword for the Congress. Getting much lesser votes than last time won’t look good for the party. If it was 66,000 in 2018, then they should get back nearly the same this time. You can say whatever you want after losing,” Reddy added.

Moreover, apart from the bypoll going to test waters for KCR before the 2023 state elections, many are keenly watching how the chief minister’s Dalit Bandhu scheme will have an effect. Under the new programme, every eligible Dalit candidate will get funds of Rs 10 lakh to set up their own business or establishment. So far, the state government has spent Rs 2000 for the Huzurabad constituency for the scheme, and KCR has promised to allocate Rs 1.75 lakh crore for Dalits across the state.

For Eatala Rajender, the bypoll is also a prestige issue, given that he is a former aide of KCR, and an ex-TRS minister. Rajender was sacked from the Telangana cabinet in May this year after lang-grabbing allegations surfaced against him. He then quit as an MLA and joined the BJP in June. A win for him will be a big slap on the face for KCR, and will also give a boost to the BJP, which has been staking claim as the main opposition party in the state, a position which the Congress held naturally until recently.

Balmoor’s candidacy a result of internal politics in Congress?

A senior Congress leader, who did not want to be named, however said that Venkat Balmoor’s candidacy has more to do with internal machinations of the party, rather than anything else. “Some are saying that that Revanth Reddy wants Balmoor out of the Pedapalli seat, to accommodate someone else. Another reason is that Venkat Balmoor had earlier supported Komatreddy Venkat Reddy’s TPCC chief candidacy, so he is being. Some are even saying that Balmoor was put up to make Eatala win,” he told Siasat.com.

However, Raghavendra Reddy also said that Balmoor’s candidacy, aside from internal party issues, also establishes that Congress party president Revanth Reddy is choosing candidates. “The TPCC chief after taking over said that the youth should work and that he will ensure that they get party tickets. By choosing the NSUI president, he has show that youngsters will get a chance. I am not denying internal machinations, but overall it is a big statement the Congress as well,” he added.

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