Huzurabad bypoll delay gives TRS an edge over BJP, Eatala

Hyderabad: The Huzurabad by-election’s delay seems to be giving the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) a breather, given the fact that it now has time to run a prolonged campaign and put its resources to good use, especially in terms of money power.

The situation however will be the opposite for Bharatiya Janata Party’s Eatala Rajender, who is the main contender for the Huzurabad bypoll. Rajender, who was the health minister in the TRS government until May this year, was earlier riding a sympathy wave after he was sacked from his post by chief minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao (KCR). He was hoping for an early by-election and began his campaign right from June itself after he resigned as an MLA.

However, with the Election Commission of India (ECI) deciding to wait until the festival season is over and then conduct bypolls, it is unlikely that the Huzurabad by-election will take place in October. The festival season ends with Diwali on November 4 this year. The assembly seat fell vacant on June 12 after Eatala resigned, and the ECI has to conduct it before December 12.

“Now we have time to undertake more activities in Huzurabad, and campaign harder. Eatala won’t have any advantage now. In fact, if the Dalit Bandhu scheme is rolled out well, then it has the potential to secure KCR’s legacy for long. As of now, we are now more confident then earlier,” a TRS leader who did not want to be named told

Eatala, a former aide of KCR who fought with him for Telangana’s statehood in the TRS, was sacked from the cabinet by the chief minister due to allegations of land-grabbing. After resigning as an MLA, he joined the BJP, which is trying to build its base in the rural pockets of Telangana where it has traditionally been very weak.

Moreover, the TRS is leaving no stone unturned for the upcoming Huzurabad by-election. Through the Dalit Bandhu scheme (under which eligible beneficiaries get Rs. 10 lakh), it will hope to draw a chunk of the SC vote share. The ruling party’s candidate, Gellu Srinivas Yadav, a Backward Classes (BC) leader, also shows that KCR does not want to upset the BC community which comprises over 50% of the state’s population (Eatala also belongs to it).

“Eatala was riding a huge sympathy wave earlier, which will slowly evaporate with time. This will ideally help the TRS, and ease pressure on the ruling party as things are not time boundfor Huzurabad now. They can plan things slowly now, unlike earlier when leaders were in a rush. Eatala Rajender earlier had an upper hand earlier,” said political analyst Palwai Raghavendra Reddy.

In the upcoming Huzurabad by-poll, the TRS will be at an advantage, especially after it won the previous Nagarjunasagar by-election earlier this year. The TRS was on the backfoot last year after back-to-back losses to the BJP in the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) polls and Dubbaka by-poll last year. Moreover, with the Congress under its new president Revanth Reddy doing seemingly better, it is to be seen how the bypoll plays out.

In fact, Revanths’s public meetings have been drawing massive crowds in recent times. Moreover, the BJP also failed to perform when it mattered most in this year’s Nagarjunasagar by-election. The saffron party’s candidate could muster just over 7,000 votes. TRS’s Nomula Bhagat won with over 80,0000 votes, while Congress candidate and veteran leader Jana Reddy secured over 70,000 votes.

“There will be people in every seat who want to teach the ruling party a lesson. That vote share could have helped the BJP with the Huzurbad bypoll. Now, with Congress coming into the picture, the neutral anti-TRS vote will split. The Congress is making all the good noises ever since Revanth Reddy came into the picture. If they can come in second regardless of who wins, it will be a huge thing,” Raghavendra Reddy added.

In the 2018 Telangana Assembly polls, Rajender secured 104469 votes, with Congress candidate P. Kaushik Reddy getting 60604 votes. The BJP’s Raghu Puppala got a paltry 1670 votes. In the 2018 state elections, the BJP also won just one out of 119 seats.

As things stand now, Kaushik Reddy, who was in a good position to even win the Huzurabad seat, switched sides to the TRS few weeks ago. It was something that political pundits expected. Kaushik, who was perhaps expecting to be given a TRS ticket, is now being accommodated into the state Legislative Council. His nomination however is still pending as governor Tamilisai Soundararajan has not cleared it yet.