Dubbak win a shot in arm for BJP in Telangana

Hyderabad, Nov 10 (IANS) The victory in the bypoll to the Dubbak Assembly constituency has come as a shot in the arm for Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and is a sure boost to its claim of being the viable alternative to the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS).

This is the first defeat for TRS in any by-election since the formation of Telangana state in 2014. It comes almost two years after TRS retained power with a massive majority in the Assembly elections.

By wresting the seat from TRS in Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao’s home district Siddipet, the party has sent the alarm bells ringing in the ruling party camp.

Defying all forecasts, the BJP put up an impressive show to snatch the seat despite the fact that by fielding Solipeta Sujatha, TRS was banking on the sympathy factor and was confident of a cakewalk.

The death of Sujatha’s husband and sitting legislator Solipeta Ramalinga Reddy had necessitated the by-election.

While bypoll outcome will have no impact on the stability of TRS government, which has 104 MLAs in the 119-member Assembly, the people’s verdict will certainly upset the ruling party’s standing as the sole champion of India’s youngest state.

It was all the more significant as Chandrasekhar Rao had entrusted the task of leading the campaign to his nephew and Finance Minister T Harish Rao, who is considered a master strategist.

Both KCR, as the TRS chief is popularly known, and his son and TRS Working President and key Cabinet Minister KT Rama Rao, had stayed away from the campaign. Harish Rao, however, had been campaigning even before the announcement of the poll date and had repeatedly claimed that TRS will win the seat by a margin of over one lakh votes.

The victory in Dubbak has given BJP only the second seat in Assembly but is sure a big boost to its morale ahead of Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) elections likely next month.

“The BJP had truly made a mark today in Telangana politics. A party with not much presence in segments beyond Hyderabad put up such a show against the ruling TRS, in latter’s stronghold, is no mean achievement. This result should be a wake-up call for KCR and TRS to reorganise themselves before 2023 Assembly elections,” political analyst P Raghavendra Reddy told IANS.

He believes that the performance in Dubbak will enthuse the BJP to set this as a case study and take a similarly aggressive route in the upcoming GHMC elections. The party will surely continue with its trademark politics in future.

The BJP had dealt a big jolt to TRS in 2019 Lok Sabha elections by winning four Lok Sabha seats. Its best-ever performance in the state had infused new enthusiasm in the party, after the drubbing in the 2018 Assembly polls.

However, the saffron party failed to repeat the performance in local body polls. In the by-elections to Huzurnagar Assembly seat, which TRS wrested from the Congress in October last year, the BJP finished a poor third and even forfeited the deposit.

After the win in Dubbak, Bandi Sanjay Kumar, who took over as the party’s state President in March this year, exuded confidence that the party will continue the winning streak.

For the Congress, which was considered the main opposition, Dubbak outcome is another rude shock.

After losing a dozen MLAs to the TRS after the 2018 polls and the defeat in Huzurnagar, the party had its prestige at stake.

“The Congress, as expected, remained an also-ran in the bypoll. It is unfortunate that the party has lost the confidence of the people and it needs a complete overhaul to bounce back from this stage,” said Raghavendra Reddy.

(Mohammed Shafeeq can be contacted at m.shafeeq@ians.in)


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