TRS could ward off threats from a combined Opposition and emerge victorious.

 

HYDERABAD: The thumping victory of the Telangana Rashtriya Samithi (TRS) in the Huzurnagar Assembly byelection by a record margin of 43,358 votes in Telangana has lifted the sagging morale of the K. Chandrasekhar Rao (KCR) government that suffered a dent due to the loss of seven Lok Sabha seats early this year. Chief Minister KCR appeared in high spirits as he appeared before party leaders and the media after the results were announced on Thursday evening.

The win is all the more sweet as the TRS wrested the seat from the Congress which is struggling to regain its foothold following a humiliating defeat in two successive elections to the Assembly in last December and Lok Sabha this April. The byelection was necessitated by the resignation of Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) president N. Uttam Kuamr Reddy who got elected as MP from Nalgonda this May.

Uttam Kumar Reddy fielded his wife and former MLA Padmavathi from the Huzurnagar seat, risking criticism from his opponents within the party. Padmavathi, who lost her neighbouring Kodad Assembly seat last year, waged a futile battle to retain her husband’s pocket borough which consists of around 20% Reddy community votes.

TRS fielded Sanampudi Saidi Reddy, who lost to Uttam Kumar Reddy last year and marshaled all its resources to win the bypoll as Chief Minister KCR took it as a prestigious issue. Interestingly, the BJP and TDP, too, fielded strong candidates here, thus posing a threat to the ruling TRS. BJP candidate K. Rama Rao and TDP’s nominee Ch. Kiranmayi have their own community base in Huzurnagar.

However, when the EVMs were opened on Thursday, the battle appeared one-sided and TRS’ Saidi Reddy polled 1,13,005 votes against his nearest rival Congress candidate Padmavathi with 69,737 votes, thus defeating her by a margin of 43,358, a record for this Assembly constituency. BJP’s Rama Rao got just 2,639 votes and TDP’s Kiranmayi polled 1,827 votes and both lost their deposits.

This victory in the Huzurnagar byelection couldn’t have come at an opportune time for Chief Minister KCR who is struggling to face an onslaught of a combined Opposition in the wake of the 21-day ongoing RTC strike. KCR, in fact, is in a sort of low spirits after his party lost seven MP seats—four to BJP and three to Congress in the April elections and more so by the defeat of his daughter Kavitha’s defeat in Nizamabad.

The ongoing RTC strike, that also resulted in the suicide of two of its employees, has eventually turned into a test of popularity of TRS in the Huzurnagar byelection. Though not openly, the RTC employee leaders, in a way, appealed to the people to teach the ruling party a lesson in the bypolls. Both the BJP and Congress backed a general bandh called by the RTC unions on 19 October.

Surprisingly, the TRS could ward off threats from the combined Opposition parties and emerge victorious by a record margin in this once-considered a stronghold of Congress. The TRS faced charges of large-scale money distribution and misuse of power, but the party was also constrained by sudden transfer of the local police superintendent (SP) by another officer by the Election Commission (EC).

TRS election in-charge and MLC Palla Rajeswar Reddy told this newspaper: “People had reposed their faith in the  leadership of KCR and his policies. The huge victory margin for us is a slap on the face of Congress leaders who lived in their dreams of coming close to us. In fact, the police had troubled us more than the Opposition parties.”

KCR, who held a media conference at his official residence Pragathi Bhavan in Hyderabad, claimed: “BJP leaders who lived in day-dreams of unseating us from power should realise their fourth position (as another Independent candidate polled more votes than that of BJP) in Huzurnagar. We have achieved majority in all polling stations, which is a record.”

This win of Huzurnagar byelection has also vindicated the stand of KCR who had admitted as many as 13 Congress MLAs into his party and made one of them—Sabita Reddy—a minister.

At the same time, the Congress is now a demoralised camp with just five MLAs after one of them–Komatireddy Rajagopal Reddy—has been maintaining distance from it. The loss of Huzurnagar came as a blow to Uttam Kuamr Reddy as the PCC president. Finally, he may have to quit his post, owning moral responsibility for the bypoll defeat of his wife in his own seat.

The BJP, too, is a disappointed camp as its candidate Rama Rao had ended up with a poor tally of just 2,638 votes. Rama Rao belongs to a dominant OBC community of Perikas which account for around 12,000 votes and the BJP had hoped that he would secure their support, among others. However, his abysmal vote tally left the party way behind its dreams of emerging as an alternative to the ruling TRS in Telangana.

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