Telangana set to witness high-voltage bypoll to Munugode Assembly seat

A high-octane campaign, unprecedented in many ways, has been witnessed for the bypoll ever since Komatireddy Raj Gopal Reddy quit Congress and also as MLA in August and joined the BJP.

Hyderabad: Over 2.41 lakh voters would give their verdict in the bypoll to Munugode Assembly constituency in Telangana on November 3, an election that is expected to influence the future course of state politics in the run-up to next year’s Legislative Assembly polls.

For, the by-election in this backward constituency in Nalgonda district is crucial for all the three major parties in the state – the ruling TRS, opposition BJP and the Congress.

The TRS, recently renamed as Bharat Rashtra Samiti (BRS), aims to demonstrate its dominance in state politics and go national with a big win here.

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The message the K Chandrasekhar Rao-led party would like to send at the national level – it can take on the BJP and win.

A loss in the bypoll would hamper not only its national plans but also embolden the opposition ahead of the Assembly polls.

The BJP, meanwhile, hopes to give a push to its plans to emerge as the alternative to BJP with a victory in Munugode.

The party is on a high following its victories in Dubbak and Huzurabad Assembly bypolls and also the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) election during the last two years.

Even if it ends up as the runner-up behind the TRS, it can still claim to be the main opposition, leaving the Congress to the third spot.

For the beleaguered grand old party, it is almost a do or die battle in view of its below par performances in the 2014 and 2018 Assembly elections and the subsequent bypolls.

If Congress loses, it would be a double whammy for the party as Munugode was its sitting seat.

There is a Left aspect to the contest as well, with the CPI and CPI (M) announcing support to the TRS and actively campaigning for the ruling party’s victory.

The total number of eligible voters in the predominantly-rural Munugode Assembly constituency in Nalgonda district, about 85 kms from Hyderabad, is over 2.41 lakh – 1,21,720 male and 1,20,128 female.

Over 60 per cent of the electorate reportedly belong to the backward classes.

A high-octane campaign, unprecedented in many ways, has been witnessed for the bypoll ever since Komatireddy Raj Gopal Reddy quit Congress and also as MLA in August and joined the BJP.

Though as many as 47 candidates are in the fray, the main contest is among Rajagopal Reddy, who is seeking re-election on BJP ticket, former MLA Kusukuntla Prabhakar Reddy of TRS and Congress’ Palvai Sravanthi.

While banking on the popularity of Raj Gopal Reddy, the BJP has deployed Union Minister G Kishan Reddy, state unit president and MP Bandi Sanjay Kumar, party MLAs Eatala Rajender and M Raghunandan Rao among other leaders for campaign.

It was, however, the TRS that conducted an almost unheard of campaign with several state ministers, a number of MLAs and other leaders canvassing in support of their candidate covering every inch of Munugode.

This has prompted the BJP to allege that the TRS has shifted the state secretariat to Munugode.

The TRS has attacked Raj Gopal Reddy by alleging that he had switched over to BJP out of consideration of business favours.

TRS Working President K T Rama Rao had announced that he would “adopt” Munugode and personally focus on its development.

During the campaign, the TRS highlighted the various welfare schemes being implemented by the state government, including ‘Rythu Bandhu’ investment support scheme and ‘Rythu Beema’ life insurance scheme for farmers and free power to farm sector, while alleging that the NDA government at the Centre let down the country on all fronts.

TRS supremo and Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao addressed a public meeting on Sunday last when he referred to the recent ‘TRS MLAs poaching case’ and accused the BJP of ‘trying to buy’ 20 or 30 MLAs of his party and topple his government.

Munugode had been a Left stronghold with CPI winning the segment in 1985, 1989, 1994, 2004 and 2009.

Congress nominee Palvai Sravanthi is banking on the goodwill of her late father Palvai Govardhan Reddy who had served as Munugode MLA and as MP.

State Congress president and MP A Revanth Reddy and other party leaders have been campaigning for the victory of Sravanthi.

Nalgonda district has been a Congress stronghold and the party had won two Lok Sabha constituencies (Nalgonda and Bhongir) in the district in the 2019 general elections.

While Rs 6.80 crore of cash and 4,560 litres of liquor had been seized by authorities till Monday evening as part of implementation of Model Code of Conduct, media reports indicate distribution of money and other inducements on a massive scale.

The Election Commission has posted teams of Income Tax, GST, besides two expenditure observers to check violations of the model code.

Campaigning will end this evening. Counting of votes would be taken up on November 6.

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