Here’s Why BJP’s Victory In By-Polls To Dubbaka Constituency In Telangana Is Significant

Here’s Why BJP’s Victory In By-Polls To Dubbaka Constituency In Telangana Is SignificantBJP Telangana chief Bandi Sanjay Kumar at an election rally.
Snapshot
  • In 2018, the TRS candidate won the seat by getting 54.3 per cent of the votes cast.

    In the by-elections now, the TRS’ vote share has dropped by 16.5 percentage points and votes by some 27,000 votes.

While the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is impressed with the results it got from the elections to the Bihar assembly and by-elections to 58 other constituencies across the country, its victory in the Dubbaka assembly constituency in Telangana is a spectacular one.

There are more than a couple of reasons why the Dubbaka victory for the BJP in Telangana’s Medak district is significant and perhaps, could be a milestone for it in southern India, where it is yet to be fully accepted by the electorate in many parts outside Karnataka.

The first reason is that the BJP has wrested the constituency, where the stakes were high, from the ruling party within two years of the assembly elections in Telangana.

It is not an easy task to defeat a ruling party in a by-election and in doing that, the BJP has sent a strong message across the region.

The campaign was personally headed by Telangana Finance Minister Harish Rao for the TRS in the by-elections and thus, the BJP's victory gains more significance.

The second reason is that the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) tried to cash in on sympathy votes by nominating the widow of Solipeta Ramalinga Reddy, whose death in August this year led to the by-elections.

The ruling TRS nominated Sujatha Reddy hoping to reap sympathy from the electorate but in the process, it could have upset its own cadre. Still, the performance of the BJP and its candidate M Raghunandan Rao, who had also fought for a separate Telangana, should be commended.

The campaign in the by-election was led by TRS founder K Chandrashekar Rao’s son K T Rama Rao, who is the party’s working president and a member of his father’s Cabinet as IT minister.

On 29 October, addressing the media Rama Rao said that the BJP and Congress would lose deposit in the by-elections. He said the TRS government had waived over Rs 27,000 crore farm loans and accused the BJP of failure in managing the economy.

His pitch for his father was that the latter was probably the best chief minister in the country.

On his part, Telangana Chief Minister Chandrashekar Rao attacked Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government for its agricultural reforms and opposed them. In fact, during the by-poll, the chief minister was particularly harsh in attacking Modi.

But the end result was something that has left the ruling party in Telangana dumbstruck. The TRS' reaction to the verdict has been "we will look into the reasons for the defeat".

In 2018, TRS candidate Reddy won the seat by getting 54.3 per cent of the votes cast. Bagging 89,299 votes, he won over his nearest Congress rival by a margin of nearly 63,000 votes.

In the by-elections now, the TRS’ vote share has dropped 16.5 percentage points and votes by some 27,000 votes.

In contrast, the BJP moved up from a poor third to a winner this time with its vote share rising to 38.4 per cent from a mere 13.75 per cent. It was Raghunandan Rao who ended third in 2018.

This time, he has seen the BJP’s votes increase by over 40,000 and vote share by 24.7 per cent to 38.47. This comes at a time when the BJP has only one member in the assembly.

The Congress, which raised the stake by roping in a defector from the TRS, Cheruku Srinivasa Reddy, not only ended third but lost 2.83 per cent of its vote share and some 4,000 votes.

The third reason is that the BJP had to overcome a few odds in breasting the tape first. During the run up to the by-elections, it had to face many problems in Telangana, particularly with the newly-formed state under a new leader, Bandi Sanjay Kumar.

Though the Congress terms the BJP’s victory as one of sympathy for Raghunandan Rao who has lost a couple of times, what it tries to hide in the latter’s achievement is the difficulties the latter had to face.

At least on two occasions, the Telangana Police claimed to have conducted search operations on relatives of the BJP Dubbaka candidate. On 27 October, it claimed that cash to the tune of Rs 18.67 lakh had been seized from the houses of Raghunandan’s relative.

On 2 November, the Telangana Police claimed it had recovered Rs 1 crore from the brother-in-law’s house of the BJP candidate. The BJP denied that it had anything to do with these and alleged that these were the TRS’ efforts to defame it.

Union Minister of State for Home G Kishen Reddy, who termed the police action as unjustified, said the house of Raghunandan’s relative was raided illegally.

The by-election result is perhaps an indication of the wrong handling of a couple of issues by the Chandrashekar Rao government in Telangana.

One, it did not handle the coronavirus situation properly at the initial stages. It drew a lot of flak and required the Union government’s intervention.

Two, the floods as a result of last month’s rains left the state administration exposed.

In a way, the Telangana results could be an expression of disenchantment with the TRS government, a pointer to the rising fortunes of the BJP and the hopeless situation the Congress is placed in.

M.R. Subramani is Executive Editor, Swarajya. He tweets @mrsubramani

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