Hyderabad: An interesting battle seems to be on cards in April 17 by-election to Nagarjuna Sagar Assembly seat in Telangana.
Upbeat following its victory in two graduates’ constituencies of State Legislative Council, Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) is determined to retain the seat while opposition BJP and Congress will go all out to prove a point.
Stakes will be high for all three major parties in the by-poll. TRS, which managed to put brakes on BJP’s winning march by wresting one Council seat from the saffron party and retaining the other, will be keen to continue the winning streak.
BJP to take Assembly bypoll as another chance
BJP, whose Mission 2023 received a jolt with the defeat in Council polls, will take the Assembly bypoll as another chance to project itself as the only viable alternative to TRS.
After wresting Dubbak Assembly seat from TRS in November last year and putting up an impressive performance in Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) polls in December, BJP had emerged as the main opposition and had gone aggressive in taking on TRS.
The saffron party is expected to give a tough fight to show that its win in Dubbak and impressive performance in GHMC was not a flash in the pan.
After the surprise defeat at the hands of BJP in Dubbak, TRS will be treading cautiously in Nagarjuna Sagar. Political analysts say the ruling party will take no chances this time. Realising that overconfidence led to the debacle in Dubbak, TRS leadership is carefully evolving its strategy in Sagar.
The bypoll is necessitated by the death of sitting legislator Nomula Narsimhaiah of TRS in December last year.
In 2018, Narsimhaiah had defeated his nearest rival Jana Reddy of Congress by a margin of 7,771 votes. While Narsimhaiah polled 83,655 votes, Jana Reddy secured 75,884 votes. Niveditha Reddy of BJP could get only 2,675 votes.
In Dubbak, TRS had fielded S. Sujatha Reddy, widow of S. Ramalinga Reddy, whose death had caused the by-poll. As the sympathy factor did not work for the ruling party, it is reluctant to pick Narsimhaiah’s son as the candidate in Nagarjuna Sagar.
The defeat in Dubbak was the first for TRS in any by-election in Telangana since formation of separate state in 2014. TRS president and Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao is holding wider consultation with party leaders in Nagarjuna Sagar constituency to decide the party candidate.
March 30 is the last day for filing nominations for the bypoll and KCR, as Rao is popularly known, is likely to announce the candidate late on March 29.
KCR has reportedly shortlisted some names, including late Narsimhaiah’s son Nomula Bharat. According to the party leaders, he will take a decision based on the outcome of five surveys which the party conducted this month on its position and the likely candidates.
Even before announcing the candidate for the by-poll, TRS has launched the campaign in the constituency. Some party legislators have already rushed to the constituency in Nalgonda district to begin campaigning for the party.
Both KCR and his son and TRS working president K. T. Rama Rao had stayed away from campaigning in Dubbak. This time both the leaders are likely to address election rallies in Nagarjuna Sagar.
BJP, which was waiting for TRS to announce its candidate, received a jolt on Friday after Niveditha Reddy, who contested the same seat on BJP ticket in 2018 election, filed her nomination even though the party did not announce her candidature.
Niveditha’s action came even as BJP state president Bandi Sanjay Kumar was meeting senior leaders to decide the party candidate. The saffron party, which had roped in central leaders in the campaigning in GHMC and Legislative Council polls, is likely to run an aggressive campaign.
Political observers say a win in Nagarjuna Sagar could strengthen BJP, which is working with a mission to come to power in 2023.
Unhappy over BJP leadership considering the names of some leaders who joined the party recently, Niveditha Reddy filed her nomination as the party candidate without waiting for the party decision. This has caused embarrassment to the party leadership.
BJP leaders are reportedly divided over the choice of candidates. While party’s central leader in-charge of BJP’s affairs in Telangana is in favour of Niveditha, the state leaders feel that she will not be able to give a fight as she polled less than one per cent votes in the last election.
Some see the Nagarjuna Sagar contest as a direct fight between TRS and Congress. The battle will be interesting as Congress has fielded its veteran leader and former minister K. Jana Reddy.
Jana Reddy is a seven-time MLA. He was earlier elected five times from Chalakurthy constituency, which became Nagarjuna Sagar in the delimitation exercise in 2009.
The by-poll may become a do or die battle for Congress party in the state. Analysts say Jana Reddy will shoulder the heavy responsibility of reviving the party’s fortunes in the state.
Congress suffered a series of setbacks since 2018 Assembly polls. It not only lost a dozen MLAs to TRS but also suffered defeat in by-election to Huzurabad seat, which was vacated by state Congress chief Uttam Kumar Reddy following his election to Lok Sabha in 2019. TRS captured the Congress stronghold.
The humiliating defeat in Dubbak, GHMC and elections to rural and urban local bodies threw Congress into total disarray.
Jana Reddy has already started campaigning in Nagarjuna Sagar. Addressing a public meeting, he claimed that the development done by him in Nagarjuna Sagar Assembly constituency, formerly known as Chalakurthi, was far more compared to what has been done in Gajwel, Sircialla and Siddipet by KCR, KTR and Harish Rao respectively.
“I will show my name along with former CM N T Rama Rao and other Congress CMs on the foundation stones of numerous irrigation and other projects,” he said slamming TRS for its allegation that he has done nothing for Nagarjuna Sagar.
Jana Reddy claimed that Nagarjuna Sagar is the only constituency in Telangana where irrigation water is being provided to two lakh acres, 963-km BT roads, which are more than those in the constituencies of KCR, KTR and Harish Rao.