The Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS), which is now BRS, has won the Munugode by-election with a majority of 10,113 votes. Kusukuntla Prabhakar Reddy of the TRS emerged the winner over BJP candidate Komatireddy Rajagopal Reddy.
While the high voltage bypoll came to an end recently, there’s more to observe through this election than what meets the eye. Though a victory at Munugode is inconsequential in terms of numbers in the state legislative assembly where the ruling party has 104 of the 119 MLAs, the byelection has turned out to be a battle of prestige and precursor to the Assembly elections scheduled for next year.
Additionally, it also clearly indicates that BJP has more or less created its space in Telangana as the principal Opposition party against the TRS while Congress is slowly fading into oblivion. TRS, through this bypoll, has banked on the goodwill generated by its various welfare schemes and the popularity of chief minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao to win the bypoll.
Meanwhile, the BJP which was confident of Rajagopal Reddy’s goodwill and influence over voters of the constituency and also ensured ED raids on TRS leaders and other tactics with the Centre’s influence. The BJP campaigned on “failed promises’’ and alleged corruption in the KCR-led government. Interestingly, this constituency has long been a stronghold of the Congress — in 2018, Komatireddy Rajagopal Reddy won this seat with a margin of more than 20,000 seats over its nearest rival — the TRS.
Eventually, money power worked in TRS’ favour in the constituency this time. For the TRS, the bypoll helps in cementing its national ambitions and in showing the BJP and the public, at large, that it is a worthy opponent to the BJP. The win also shows KCR as a potential Opposition candidate to go up against Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Meanwhile, the BJP maintains that the Munugode bypoll shows that the saffron party is now the main alternative political force in Telangana to take on the ruling TRS in the next Assembly/general elections.
Political observers say that the BJP has pushed the Congress out, creating new space for itself in the southern state, which will only enable it to make further inroads into the South. Also, the BJP’s high-decibel campaign forced the TRS to field all its big guns, including K. Chandrasekhar Rao and the entire Cabinet in a by-election campaign — displaying that when it comes to political resources nationwide, the BJP remains unmatched.
So, while it looks like a clear win for the TRS, what this bypoll indicates is actually about a stronger BJP that will make it tough for the pink party in 2023 Assembly Elections.