Hyderabad: The upcoming Nagarjunasagar by-election is going to be an acid test for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which has been staking claim as the main opposition and an alternative to the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) in the state. The saffron party is also reportedly mulling to put up a Scheduled Tribe (ST) candidate for the by-poll to build support from among tribals, at least, since its chances of winning are not high.
The Nagarjunasagar assembly seat has since 2014 witnessed a bipolar fight between the TRS and Congress, but if the saffron party, which has historically not had any support base in the constituency, puts up a good candidate, then it will also be in the fray. Unlike in Dubbak, where the BJP had a strong candidate (current MLA Raghunandan Rao) who was building a support base, it has no such face for the upcoming by-poll.
BJP spokesperson NV Subhash told siasat.com that his party’s election committee is likely to meet on Friday and pick the candidate for the Nagarjunasagar by-poll. He added that all the names in consideration will be checked, before a final decision is taken. Another leader from the saffron party also informed siasat.com that the BJP is also considering the candidature of Dr. Ravi Naik, a tribal community member.
“There are about 40,000 to 45,000 ST voters in the seat. So if we field a Reddy candidate, then those votes will go to the TRS. Dr. Ravi has. good name, and by fielding him, it will also make it known that we are promoting the ST community. Anjaiah Reddy, and Dr. Ravi Naik is a practicing doctor there. He has a good name,” the BJP leader, stated, not wanting to be quoted.
The Nagarjunasagar by-poll was necessitated after Nomula Narsamaiah passed away last year. The deceased MLA won the seat in the 2018 state polls, securing 83,655 against Jana Reddy, who got 75,884 votes. Then, BJP’s candidate Nivedita Reddy came fourth place, with her numbers being 2,675 only.
While Congress leader and former state minister Jana Reddy has already begun campaigning for the by-election, the TRS and BJP haven’t announced their candidates till now. The BJP until now was waiting for the ruling TRS, led by chief minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao, to announce its name. The by-poll was necessitated after former TRS MLA Nomula Narsamaiah passed away last year in December.
A TRS source said that the son of Nomula Narsamaiah is likely to get the ticket this time for the Nagarjunasagar by-poll, as the ruling party will bank on Backward Class votes heavily this time around as well. He is however going to face an uphill task against Jana Reddy, who is a five-time MLA, and lost by a relatively small margin. It may be noted that Narsamaiah had lost the seat against Reddy in 2014.
Political analyst Palwai Raghavendra Reddy said that the BJP makes “tall claims” and the media gives it undue importance. “Even now they don’t have a proper face in Nagarjunasagar. So the contest there is between the TRS and Congress. The BJP needs to get in and create an aura of a contest, and I don’t see it happening. The Congress should win this seat, but if they lose then it will be because of stupidity,” he added.
The analyst also pointed out that post the Nagarjunasagar by-election, lot of dimensions will change. “It is not just about winning this seat. This will anyway be a Jana Reddy election and the Congress has to fight it out (in the future),” Raghavendra Reddy said.
BJP’s performance in Telangana
In the 2018 state elections, the TRS swept the opposition away by winning 88 out of 119 seats, while the Congress, the principal opposition, managed to win in just 19 constituencies in spite of having an alliance with the TDP (won 2 seats), CPI and other smaller parties. The BJP then won just one MLA seat (Goshamahal), four lesser than what it won in the 2014 state elections.
However, the 2019 Lok Sabha polls saw the BJP (due to an apparent Modi wave) winning four parliamentary seats, with a 20% vote share. The Congress won three, and the TRS managed to win just nine (out of 17. The AIMIM retained the Hyderabad Lok Sabha seat). Since 2019, the saffron party also managed to win the Dubbak by-election, and surprised everyone by winning 48 (out of 150) seats in the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation elections that were held last year.