Congress Poll Strategist Sunil Kanugolu In Eye Of Storm After Cops Register Case Against Him For Operating Social Media Handles Posting Derogatory Content Against KCR

Congress Poll Strategist Sunil Kanugolu In Eye Of Storm After Cops Register Case Against Him For Operating Social Media Handles Posting Derogatory Content Against KCR

by Swarajya Staff - Jan 11, 2023 12:48 PM +05:30 IST
Congress Poll Strategist Sunil Kanugolu In Eye Of Storm After Cops Register Case Against Him For Operating Social Media Handles Posting Derogatory Content Against KCRCongress
Snapshot
  • After lodging an FIR in the case, the Hyderabad Cyber Crimes police conducted the raid, seizing several mobile phones, laptops and other equipment used by the Kanugolu team at their office in the city. The police charged that they had received several complaints that misinformation and derogatory comments were being posted from IP addresses originating from Kanugolu’s office.

Congress poll strategist Sunil Kanugolu on Monday (January 9) appeared before the Hyderabad Police in connection with a case booked against him on charges that he and political consultancy firm operate social media accounts aimed at spreading derogatory content against Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao and his family. 

Kanugolu appeared before the Cyber Crime Wing of Hyderabad Police after a notice was issued to him under Section 41A of the CrPC and he has been examined today, a senior police official told PTI.

''We will call him again, as part of further investigation,'' the official said.

In a related development, a notice was issued to Telangana Pradesh Congress Committee (TPCC) senior vice president Mallu Ravi under section 41A of CrPC asking him to appear before the police on January 12 as part of investigations in the case.

The Telangana High Court on January 3 had rejected Kanugolu's petition seeking to quash the FIR registered against him and also the notice issued under Section 41A of the CrPC.

The High Court directed Kanugolu to appear before the police and cooperate with the investigators, though it ordered the police not to take any coercive action against him.

After lodging an FIR in the case, the Hyderabad Cyber Crimes police conducted the raid, seizing several mobile phones, laptops and other equipment used by the Kanugolu team at their office in the city. The police charged that they had received several complaints that misinformation and derogatory comments were being posted from IP addresses originating from Kanugolu’s office.

After the raid, three persons working at the office of Kanugolu were taken into custody, but they were later let off even as police named him as an accused in the case.

Subsequently, Kanugolu had approached the High Court challenging the FIR against him and also the notice.

Congress's election strategist

A former management consultant who has so far shunned the limelight, Kanugolu is a seasoned poll strategist whose multiple electioneering contracts have seen him work with BJP, DMK, AIADMK, Akali Dal, among others. Kanugolu recently took primary membership of Congress and has been tasked by the party to help regain Karnataka.

Kanugolu, who is a part of the core team of the Congress, is currently managing the electioneering for the party in Karnataka and Telangana (2023).

Along with veteran leaders such as P Chidambaram, Mukul Wasnik, Jairam Ramesh, K C Venugopal, Ajay Maken, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, and Randeep Singh Surjewala, Kanugolu is part of party’s 2024 Lok Sabha polls task force.

While it was widely expected that well-known political strategist Prashant Kishor Pandey will join the Congress, it was Kanugolu who jumped in to the bandwagon. Kanugolu was once an associate of Kishor.

Kanugolu also is said to have been part of Amit Shah-led team that mounted successful campaigns for the BJP, including the previous round of state elections in Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, and Karnataka.

Kanugolu, who developed close ties with former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edapadi Palanisamy (EPS) in the run-up to the 2021 state assembly elections, when AIADMK contracted him to manage its campaign, is also believed to be working to convince the former CM to ditch BJP and forge an alliance with Congress. According to several sources, he also appears to have made significant headway in his attempts.

Kanugolu, a Telugu-speaker who hails from Chennai, is said to enjoy proximity to Mithun, EPS's son, who is an influential behind-the-scenes operator. He has convinced them that AIADMK's best interests will be served by severing ties with the BJP.

A good performance in Karnataka and brokering an alliance with AIADMK, especially when allies are leaving Congress in the lurch, will ensure Kanugolu's stock dramatically rising within Congress and could also decisively end the ongoing clamour by some senior party leaders to bring Kishor as a helmsman.

(With Inputs from PTI)

(Update: A feature image accompanying this report was changed)

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