Congress’ tally in the Lok Sabha may officially go down from 44 to 43, as TRS president and Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao (KCR) is set to force a byelection to the Nalgonda Parliament seat soon. Nalgonda sitting MP Gutta Sukender Reddy, who defected to the TRS two years ago, is expected to resign by the first week of October to take up a top post in a newly set up farmers’ body, with Cabinet rank.

Congress, which has suffered a blow with the exit of Sukender Reddy, one of the two LS MPs elected from Telangana in 2014, is unlikely to retain this seat due to a variety of factors. Congress, which was in power for a decade earlier, is a beleaguered pack in Telangana due to aggressive poaching of its leaders and cadre by TRS It is crippled by faction feuds in Nalgonda district.

Named as “Rythu Samanvaya Samithi” (farmers’ coordination body), this new official organisation would ensure remunerative prices for farm produce and look after the distribution of government grant to farmers at the rate of Rs 8,000 per acre from next year’s agriculture season that begins in May/June. This body will have multi-layered elected structures from the village level.

KCR has decided to appoint Sukhender Reddy, a two-term MP from Nalgonda, as the chairman of this farmers’ body to demonstrate his popularity among the electorate of Telangana, a little over a year before the next general elections in early 2019. At the same time, the Chief Minister wants to inflict a crushing defeat on the Congress, which is aspiring to come to power in the state next time round.

By opting for a byelection to the Nalgonda LS seat, KCR wants to remove the stigma of luring three MPs (including Sukender Reddy) from other parties into TRS. The other two are M. Malla Reddy (TDP   MP from Malkajigiri) and Ponguleti Sudhakar Reddy (YSR Congress MP from Khammam). Winning the Nalgonda bypolls will prove that the people are with TRS.

The process of getting Sukender Reddy elected from the village level has already begun. Reddy was made a member of the Urumadla village farmers’ committee last week and later he was made a member of Chityal mandal level panel. Next week, he will be sent to the Nalgonda district level committee and by the month end, he will be appointed to the state level body and then its chairman.

Sukender Reddy confirmed his involvement with the Rythu Samanvaya Samithi while talking to  on Saturday. “I will definitely be resigning from the LS once I am appointed to a state level post with Cabinet rank. But, the timing of resignation etc., will be decided by the Chief Minister,” he told this newspaper.

Sukender Reddy declined to go into who will contest the by-poll to his seat from TRS on the ground that the party president would take care of such things. However, sources in TRS said that Tera Chinnapa Reddy, who unsuccessfully contested Assembly elections from Nalgonda district in 2014, would be the TRS nominee to the LS byelection.

While TRS is upbeat with defections from other parties and rolling out of many welfare schemes, the Opposition is divided. Congress will have to share anti-incumbency space with other Opposition parties—TDP and BJP—which are allies in neighbouring Andhra Pradesh, but recently parted ways in Telangana.

KCR is keen on winning a by-election with a good margin at least a year before the general elections to boost the morale of his party cadre. He is particularly impressed with the gains made by TDP which won the Nandyal Assembly byelection by a handsome margin of 27,000 votes last month. This win has energised the ruling party in AP while dampened the spirits of Opposition YSR Congress.

Moreover, TRS leaders came to know of the efforts by the Congress top brass to ensure that Sukender Reddy was disqualified from LS for his defection as well as violation of the party whip in recent elections to President and Vice-President and GST voting.

KCR wants to pre-empt the Congress’ moves by getting Reddy to resign and force a by-poll.

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