TRS Wins Munugode Battle after neck-and-neck Fight, Party Celebrates Victory


On Sunday, the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) won the eminent bypoll for the Munugode Assembly seat. The gap, while comfortable at 10,000-plus votes, was close enough to be a warning signal to the ruling TRS of the national party’s rising influence in the state.

The TRS and BJP had pulled out all the stops to win the by-election, with the high-decibel campaign ending in an unprecedented 93% polling.

TRS candidate Kusukuntla Prabhakar Reddy won with a majority of 10,309 votes. Initially, except for two rounds, the TRS maintained the round-level lead in all fifteen rounds. In all 7 mandals, the party kept the lead, but only in Choutuppal Mandal BJP had shown the lead in the second round of the third rounds. At the end of counting, the tally stood at 97,006 votes for the TRS, 86,697 for the BJP, and 23,906 for the Congress’s Palvai Sravanthi Reddy.

The Congress had won Munugode in 2018 when Raj Gopal was its candidate. His defection to the BJP had necessitated the bypoll.

The TRS had deployed 14 state ministers and at least 50-60 MLAs to cover every inch of Munugode and highlight the state’s “national role model” schemes.

On Sunday, the TRS exuded confidence, with Minister T Harish Rao saying: “This win is due to the TRS’s welfare schemes like Rythu Bandhu, Rythu Bhima, and Dalita Bandhu. These schemes have changed people’s lives.”

Raj Gopal said he accepted the people’s verdict but attributed it to the TRS’s “misuse of the administration and police”. “They did not allow me to campaign properly. They violated poll codes. TRS leaders, including ministers, distributed cash and liquor while polling was on. MLAs and ministers camped in every village and threatened the people to vote for the TRS, or they would lose their welfare benefits,’’ the BJP candidate claimed.

In the run-up to the bypoll, Union Home Minister Amit Shah said a win for Reddy in Munugode would lead to the collapse of the TRS government in Hyderabad. With the kind of brute majority KCR enjoys in the Telangana assembly, that may not happen. But do not rule out district-level fissures within the ruling party coming to the fore, especially with the BJP now being seen as a viable alternative.

Many Congress politicians, too, could be headed the BJP’s way to safeguard their diminishing political relevance. The joining committee within the Telangana BJP will have some serious work to do with new membership applications.

The drastic collapse of the Congress was also evident in the fact that in December 2018, its candidate, Raj Gopal, had got as many as 99,239 votes amidst a TRS sweep – 35,000-plus more than the TRS’s Prabhakar Reddy. The BJP’s Manohar Reddy polled only 12,725 votes.

The constituency has over 60% Backward Classes population, and, as is the case with every election in Munugode, they appear to have only voted partially for any single party.


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