Hyderabad: Hot on the heels of former Congress MLA Komatireddy Rajagopal Reddy quitting his party, BJP leaders say more will follow. The ex-legislator from the Munugode seat, who quit on August 2, is will join the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on August 21. Senior Telangana BJP leaders said that they are in touch with TRS and Congress leaders, who will start defecting after October.
”By October we will have more clarity. The issue with Rajagopal Reddy was going on from about two to three years. Internal implosion will be rapid within the Congress going into the future. There is about one year left for the state elections. So, many unhappy leaders will mostly wait,” said a BJP leader from Telangana.
Rajagopal Reddy quit the Congress due to differences with party chief and Malkajgiri member of Parliament A. Revanth Reddy. The former had even lobbied for the position of Telangana Pradesh Congress Committee (TPCC), but failed to get it. The BJP had been wooing both the Reddy leaders, but Revanth decided to join the Congress in 2018.
More trouble for the Congress
According to BJP leaders, unhappy leaders from the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) are also looking to quit. “Nobody will jeopardise their position at this time and defect due to business interests. Moreover, for us, winning each by-election is more important. We can’t take on the TRS as things stand, but winning one by-poll after another builds our base,” he added.
On Friday, senior Congress leader and AICC spokesperson Sravan Dasoju also quit the Congress, adding to the party’s troubles. The grand old party, which still has considerable support in Telangana, is losing space to the BJP. The upcoming Munugode by-poll (Rajagopal Reddy’s seat) is likely to be a decisive factor.
“Congress won’t have ay option as it will become like another Huzurabad. Things are coming closer and the TRS is now becoming more and more anti-BJP. We have been growing step-by-step and we have an enhanced level of confidence,” the BJP leader said.
Munugode is a stronghold of the Congress, and unlike the Huzurabad by-poll, Rajagopal Reddy is likely to face a tough fight. For the BJP, poaching leaders form the Congress will help grow in areas where it has been weak historically weak in Telangana.
BJP relying on unhappy and angry Congress leaders
Internal issues of the Congress will only strengthen the BJP in Telangana, given that there is no space in the TRS. The Nagarjunasagar by-poll is a good example to see how the BJP still lacks credible or strong faces in the state. Unlike the Dubbaka by-election last year in 2020, where the BJP had a strong candidate, it was fight between the Congress and TRS.
A former Congress minister, Jana Reddy secured 70,504 votes, while TRS’s Nomula Bhagat won by securing 89,804 votes. The BJP’s Dr. P. Ravi could however only muster 7646 votes. Even the Huzurabad by-poll held last year is seen as a personal win for ex-TRS minister Eatala Rajender. While the TRS is strong, the BJP is looking at Telangana to make inroads into south India.
Rajender was sacked from the cabinet amid allegations of land encroachment by Jamuna Hatcheries Private Limited. The firm is owned by his family. He was thrown out from the post of health minister during the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. Both the Congress and BJP wooed him, and Eatala eventually chose the saffron party.
However, it may be noted that even with the recent joining, BJP still does not have enough candidates for the 119 Assembly seats. In the 2018 Telangana polls, the TRS won 88 seats, while the Congress won 19. The BJP could just bag one seat, while the TDP won two segments. However, soon, 12 Congress MLAs and both the TDP MLAs joined the TRS.
The BJP on the other hand managed to add two to its numbers, after winning the Dubbaka and Huzurabad by-polls.