Munugode by-poll: A prelude to the general election

A win will boast the morale of party and party leaders and a loss will demoralize them. The result may also shape the mood of people in the run-up to general elections.

By CR Gowri Shanker  Published on  6 Aug 2022 6:42 AM GMT
Munugode by-poll: A prelude to the general election

Hyderabad, August 4: Munugode Assembly likely by-election in Nalgonda district of Telangana State has come as a bolt from the blue for Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS), Indian National Congress (INC), and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

With general elections in 2023, TRS hoping for a third win in a row, and predictions of more by-poll in Telangana State in the offing over rumors of floor crossing from TRS to BJP and BJP creating all the right noises, a win or loss certainly matters for every political party, especially ruling TRS.

A win will boast the morale of party and party leaders and a loss will demoralize them. The result may also shape the mood of people in the run-up to general elections.

TRS, Congress, and BJP have high stakes in the 2023 general elections which can make or mar parties.

In the 2018 general elections in Munugode Assembly Constituency, Congress candidate Komatireddy Rajgopal Reddy won the seat defeating TRS candidate Koosakuntla Prabhakar Reddy.

Rajgopal Reddy (INC) polled 97,239 votes (48.90%), Koosakuntla Prabhakar Reddy (TRS) got 74,687 votes (37.56%) votes and BJP's Gangidi Manohar Reddy (BJP) 12,725 votes (6.40 %)

Munugode is part of the Bhongir Lok Sabha Parliamentary constituency in the Nalgonda district. The constituency has 2,00,956 voters including s 1,02,801 male voters, and 98,146 female voters. In the 2018 Telangana elections, Munugode recorded a voter turnout of 91.07%. In 2014 the turnout was 82.14%.

Since the formation of Telangana State on June 2, 2014, there were five by-elections. TRS won three and BJP two. But BJP's two wins boosted the morale of the BJP and rattled TRS, considered invincible!

BJP wins in Dubbaka and Huzurabad gave a shot in the arm to the fledgling BJP, which is aiming to capture power from TRS in the next general elections in not only Telangana but also in other southern States in its "Look South" policy road map.

As part of the South foray, BJP held its national executive committee meeting in Hyderabad with pomp and gaiety where party big wigs including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Home Minister Amit Shah, Union Ministers, BJP National leaders, BJP CMs, etc attended.

The impending election has come at a worse time for the three major political parties in Telangana State who are gearing up for the 2023 scheduled general elections. There is also a talk of the snap poll but TRS refutes.

But the resignation of Congress sitting Munugode MLA Komatireddy Rajgopal Reddy after much dilly-dallying and who is all set to join the BJP has raised a political storm.

A furious TPCC president A Revanth Reddy accused Congress MLA of "falling to few crumbs" and "contracts" after enjoying power in Congress.

"In politics, you may have changed parties, got the position, or got contracts and commissions. But ditching Telangana Talli Sonia amma, a concerted attempt to destroy Congress will not be tolerated. While Sonia despite ill health is fighting BJP, ED and our blood is boiling, this fellow Komatireddy Rajgopal Reddy meets Amit Shah for contracts and commission. Is he a human being? Can anyone indulge in such dastardly behavior? Elections come and go so are wins and losses. But this fellow mortgaged your (voters) self-respect," he blasted.

Revanth Reddy also said," Bharatiya Janata Party is trying to expand in Telangana State. It is nothing wrong. But wooing leaders through contracts is what we are opposing. Congress has a much bigger role in the formation of Telangana than TRS. Telangana movement started much before KCR revived it."

Rajagopal Reddy stoutly denied the accusations. On the other hand, he alleged "ill-treatment and insult" under Revanth Reddy. Rajagopal Reddy's brother and Congress Member of parliament from Bhuvanagiri, Komatireddy Venkat Reddy joined the issue.

In a letter to AICC president Sonia Gandhi, Rajagopal Reddy said it was humiliating to work under "outsiders" with questionable political integrity.

"I am deeply pained that those who are completely loyal to the party have been insulted, ignored at every step, and given key responsibilities to the traitors of the party," he said, adding he cannot work under a person (Revanth Reddy) who was in jail on corruption charges."

Venkat Reddy demanded an apology from Revanth Reddy and asserted, "I am a loyal Congressman and will continue to stay in Congress. It's my brother's choice to leave the party."

A Series of by-polls since the TRS forming government has put the ruling party on its toes.

The first by-election was held in 2014 itself when Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao, who contested from Medak Lok Sabha and Gajwel Assembly, quit their parliament seat and retained the Assembly seat. In the subsequent by-elections, TRS candidate Kotha Prabhakar Reddy won the Lok Sabha seat.

In the next election in 2016 in the Narayankhed Assembly constituency following the death of sitting Congress MLA P Kishta Reddy, TRS candidate M Bhupal Reddy won.

The 2016 Palair by-election was necessitated due to the death of R Venkat Reddy (Cong), Tummala Nageswara Rao of TRS won but he subsequently lost in the next general elections.

In the 2019 Huzurnagar assembly election due to the resignation of Nalgonda MP and TPCC president Uttam Kumar Reddy who opted for a parliament seat, TRS candidate S Saidi Reddy won by a huge margin.

But Dubbaka by-election in 2020 changed the fortunes of the BJP and boosted the morale of the party.

Following the death of sitting TRS MLA Solipeta Ramalinga Reddy, the by-election was held. In a close fight, BJP candidate M Raghunandan Rao defeated TRS candidate Solipeta Sujata, wife of Ramalinga Reddy by a narrow margin of 1,470 votes.

Bye elections in Huzurabad had all the high-pitch political drama between Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao and once close aide and Finance, Health Minister Etala Rajender.

Amidst differences and landgrab allegations, Rajender quit TRS and Huzurabad Assembly seat. He joined BJP. In the subsequent high pitch and most keenly fought by-election, where money and muscle power were on blatant display, Etala Rajender won the seat defeating Gellu Srinivasa Yadav of TRS by a margin of 23,855 votes. Rajender's victory emboldened BJP and gave the much-needed willpower to take on TRS.

Followed by this, a by-poll was held for the Nagarjunasagar Assembly constituency in 2021 following the demise of sitting TRS MLA Nomula Narasimhaiah. TRS fielded his son Nomula Bhagat who retained the seat by a margin of 18,872 votes.

Bhagath got 89,804 votes, and congress strongman Jana Reddy polled 70,932. BJP came poor third polling just 7,676 votes and lost deposit.

All eyes are now on Munugode and it is bound to be one of the highest decibels by poll in the run-up to the general election.

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