Hyderabad: The saffron party has made inroads into Dubbaka by winning the Assembly bypoll with a narrow margin. Lawyer-turned-politician M. Raghunandhan Rao clinched victory by securing more than 1,000 votes and gave a stiff fight to his political rival from TRS, Solipeta Sujatha.
BJP's win in Dubbaka marks an entry of a second legislator from the party in the Telangana Assembly. Newly elected M. Raghunandhan Rao will join the lone BJP MLA from Goshamahal T. Raja Singh in the House. With this, the lotus party, led by Telangana president Bandi Sanjay, has two Assembly seats, four Parliament seats - Nizamabad, Karimnagar, Secunderabad and Adilabad - and one seat in the Legislative Council.
BJP's win in Dubbaka also marked the first political victory of the party in the state after parliamentarian Bandi Sanjay was appointed as its president.
The political journey of M. Raghunandhan Rao began when he joined the TRS at a young age. He played a significant role in the struggle for a separate Telangana when he was a party convenor in Medak district. However, years later, following altercations, he moved from TRS to BJP. The MLA studied law from a university in Pune and holds a diploma from the Hyderabad Central University.
He contested in the 2014 and 2018 Assembly elections from Dubbaka but lost to the TRS. He once also contested in 2019 from Medak Lok Sabha seat but suffered a defeat again. A year later, in a nail-biting fight, he defeated the ruling party candidate Solipeta Sujatha.
The Dubbaka bypoll was projected as a fight between TRS Minister T. Harish Rao and BJP president Bandi Sanjay. The recent incident when the BJP MLA's house was searched by the police further fuelled political rivalry. Siddipet police found Rs 18.61 lakh from the house of Rao's relative and Rs 1 crore was confiscated in Hyderabad that was said to be linked to the BJP.
However, Rao enjoyed massive support among the youth of Dubbaka. Continued lack of employment opportunities that went unheeded by the TRS MLA played a key role in BJP's win.
Speaking to NewsMeter on BJP's win, political analyst, Professor Nageshwar Rao said, "The youth saw Telangana movement as an opportunity for employment but lack of jobs drove young supporters away from the ruling party. The TRS thought they would win elections on a sympathy vote. However, by placing a weak candidate it turned out to be a liability. TRS minister and leader Harish Rao tried to cloud over the weakness but in vain."
On BJP's gaining strength in Telangana, the political analyst added, "A single bypoll cannot predict the party's position. In a similar situation, the TDP won the Nandiyal bypoll but lost the Assembly election. Also, the BJP lost state elections in Rajasthan but won the Lok Sabha polls. Winning one election is not a reflection of the party's popularity but it is certain that BJP is growing at the cost of the Congress and the TRS has contributed to it by weakening its main opposition. TRS founder and Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao's politics of destabilising the Congress is strengthening the BJP."
"Bandi Sanjay's strategy is similar to his north Indian counterparts. Also the undeclared understanding between the TRS and the Hyderabad MP Asaduddin Owaisi-led AIMIM party in Telangana was one of the focal points for BJP in the Dubbaka election," the professor added.
Speaking about the results, MP Bandi Sanjay attacked the TRS and said that KCR should not underestimate BJP's influence in Telangana. Now, there is talk within the political circle that the Dubbaka results could affect the other elections in the pipeline, including the GHMC and Warangal municipal polls.
Professor Madabhushi Sridhar Acharyulu, academician and former information commissioner told NewsMeter, "It is first time the ruling party lost a by-election. It's a gain for opposition and warning to check its policies and programs. The election should always happen on development plank, not on emotions or psychological aspects. The electors should decide with maturity and based on reason".
Dubbaka By-polls : BJP wins by 1079 votes
BJP candidate M Raghunandan Rao – 63,352 votes
TRS candidate – Solipeta Sujatha- 62,273 votes
Congress candidate- Cheruku Srinivas Reddy – 21908 votes
Total number of votes counted – 1.64 lakh
NOTA- votes – 554