As the Huzurabad by-election is nearing, the politics in the state of Telangana is heating up quickly. Considered as the semi-final election for the 2023 state assembly election, senior state level leaders from all the major parties of the state are camping in the constituency to win the election at any cost.
In May 2021 senior Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) leader and states Health Minister Etela Rajender was accused of land encroachments in Medak district. Immediately, the Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao (KCR) ordered an inquiry into this matter. Rajender responded by saying that all these allegations were baseless and that it is being done as part of a larger conspiracy. Then he resigned from the TRS party and joined Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) immediately. This paved the way for another by-election in the state.
The Election Commission announced that the polling will take place on 30 October and the result will be declared on 2 November. TRS fielded its students wing chief G Srinivas Yadav for the by-election. But on behalf of TRS the battle for Huzurabad is being led by TRS trouble-shooter and state Finance Minister Harish Rao.
BJP fielded Rajender who represented the constituency three times in the past. Congress though considered as a non-player in this election fielded its student wing NSUI state president Balmoori Venkat Narsing Rao.
After Rajender’s exit from the party, TRS immediately went into damage control mode. KCR deputed ministers Gangula Kamalakar, Harish Rao, ex MP Vinod Kumar among others to make sure that none from the TRS camp will follow the footsteps of Rajender to exit the party. Funds are flowing like water for the constituency from the government treasuries. Out of proposals worth Rs 665 crore the government already released Rs 365 crore for completion of various works in the Huzurabad constituency.
KCR also launched the “Dalitha Bandhu” scheme in the constituency on a pilot basis. Under this scheme 100 dalit families in the constituency will recieve Rs 10 lakh financial assistance. This became highly controversial as immediately other backward communities of the state started demanding similar schemes for their people.
On the other hand BJP state leadership which is high on josh after winning Dubbaka by-poll and after gaining an impressive number of seats in GHMC elections is campaigning for Rajender in the constituency for the past few months. The Huzurabad assembly segment falls under BJP state president Bandi Sanjay Kumar Lok Sabha constituency Karimnagar.
So with Rajender and Kumar, this has become a high pitched battle. Kumar completed his first phase of padayatra on 2 October and immediately jumped into the poll battle for Huzurabad along with the entire state team. BJP is highly dependent on countering the state government's failure and Rajender’s popularity to win the election.
Caste equations of the constituency provide an equal opportunity for both the parties TRS and BJP to polarise the voters in their favour. The constituency has 2.26 lakh voters with Munnur Kapu, Mudiraj, Goud and Yadav communities forming the majority.
The constituency also has a 45,000 strong SC community. With Kumar and Aravind Dharmapuri on the BJP side, the Munnur Kapu community might shift towards the BJP. Rajender, who is from the Mudiraj community, is considered as one of the tallest OBC leaders of the state. BJP even tried to attract the Goud community with its “Gouda Garjana” program in the constituency.
TRS candidate comes from the Yadav community, another strong community in the constituency. Taking a cue from the BJP immediately TRS started conducting caste-based party meetings. It conducted the Reddy Sammelanam in Huzurabad in this regard. And the party hopes to attract the SC community with its Dalitha Bandhu scheme.
This by-poll will be a neck to neck fight between BJP and TRS. Though BJP, through Rajender, is having a small lead as of now, TRS, through its money power and welfare schemes, can any time shift the momentum to their side. Next one month campaigning is crucial for both the parties.
Considering this election as a semi-final for 2023 state elections, a win for TRS in this election will damage the hopes of opposition parties. As many disgruntled leaders from both TRS and Congress are ready to shift their allegiance to BJP once they prove their mettle in this by-poll, a win for BJP can shift the entire political space of the state into a bi-polar fight between BJP and TRS for 2023 elections.
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