Munugode by-poll: 6 Takeaways

CM KCR- KPR Munugode bypoll

Rama Krishna Sangem

Now that the heat and dust of Munugode assembly by-election is settled, we can analyse the possible political outcomes in Telangana that goes to elections a year away from now.  I twice toured the constituency less than 50 km from Hyderabad – first on October 17 and then on October 24. On both the occasions, it appeared that Congress which won here in 2018 is fast losing its grip, thus leaving the fight between TRS and BJP.

First time, a key aide of Rajagopal Reddy, who forced the election after he quit Congress and joined BJP, said: “We are going to win hands down, may be with a margin of around 25,000 votes”. However, Rajagopal Redy said it would be a tight fight. “It’s not an easy win for me,” he said, after filing his nomination. On the other hand, TRS candidate Kusukuntla Prabhakar Reddy’s close confidants said, CM KCR’s welfare schemes will tilt the scales.

Congress candidate Sravanthi Reddy chiefly banked on her late father Govardhan Reddy’s image and that of her personal appeal in some pockets. But, she looked like a distant third, right from the beginning. There was talk on the possible vote share of BSP and other smaller players of the total 47 contestants. Now that the actual figures of polling are with us, all those guess works proved to be wrong– particularly of BSP crossing 10,000 votes mark.

6 Takeaways:

Here are 6 takeaways from the by-poll. 1. CM KCR is definitely not happy with the 10,350 votes margin TRS got here. Of the around 2,25,000 polled votes, this margin is too feeble. A swing of around 5,500 votes could have changed the result, Even TRS working president KTR admitted that the margin was not satisfactory. Most of the media attributed the result to the intense poll management of CM KCR, but that’s not absolutely right.

Yes, KCR may have drafted more than 120 senior leaders including ministers and MLAs to the campaign and poll management. But we have seen a majority – around 75 per cent – of the beneficiaries of welfare schemes especially old age pensions have voted for Car, TRS symbol. The efficient delivery mechanism of these schemes yielded dividends to Prabhakar Reddy. KCR will follow this elsewhere in Telangana.

2. Komatireddy Rajagopal Reddy stood taller than BJP in Munugode. He personally handled his entire campaign. After all, he brought the election. Youth and a majority of employees, both private and government, backed him. Days before the poll notification, he told Home Minister Amit Shah that he was winning. Three days before, he cancelled a meeting of BJP president Nadda to save precious resources and time. That was his confidence level.

Rajagopal Reddy personally contacted leaders from around 150 of the total 189 villages and hamlets. He promised them whatever he can. Defection of former TRS MP Dr Bura Narsiaha Goud into BJP was a boost to Reddy. But, he was outwitted by KCR. Many BC leaders joined TRS from both BJP and Congress, settling scores. His elder brother Congress MP Venkat Reddy‘s discreet canvassing for Rajagopal Reddy hasn’t worked well with voters.

3. KCR for the first time since 2014 took the help of CPI and CPM. In fact, these two Left parties have a share of around 12,000 votes – CPI 10,000 and CPM 2,000 – in Munugode. This alliance is likely to continue till 2023 assembly elections. CPI may ask for 5-6 seats, while CPM insist on 7-8 constituencies. Finally, they may settle for something less than these figures.

4. Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Yatra’s poor impact. Most Congress leaders are not willing to talk about this. But, they all are aware of the fact that Rahul’s presence for more than a week in Telangana couldn’t help them retain deposit in Munugode. Sad enough, candidate Sravanthi Reddy was made to walk with Rahul, taking a break from her campaigning.

Rahul should have gone to Munugode for a meeting, taking a break, just as he went to Delhi to attend to Mallikarjun Kharge’s charging taking. But, he kept himself away from Munugode campaign. We can’t understand why he acted like this. After all, he is a political leader and talked politics too during his Yatra. Perhaps he wanted to avoid going to a losing by-poll. Then, how can we expect him to win votes for Congress in 2023?

5. Analysts are predicting a direct fight between TRS and BJP, pushing Congress into third spot, in 2023 elections. But, that may not be right. All the 3 parties have their pluses and minuses. TRS has the problem of anti-incumbency against 30-40 sitting MLAs, and BJP doesn’t have any credible candidates in 40-50 seats. BJP’s hoping to attract defections in the last minute. Now this is doubtful.

6. Last takeaway is the role of money power. Of course, voters may expect money in future elections too. But, money alone will not be the criteria in 60 – 70 of the total 119 seats. Money is not needed in rich areas and Old City of Hyderabad, and also in SC/ST seats. As of now, there is some anti-incumbency mood against many TRS MLAs but BJP is still not ready to benefit from it, leave alone Congress.

A lot depends on how these major parties introspect and revamp their strategies and regroup their strengths, learning lessons from Munugode by-election.  I think a clear picture of political situation in Telangana will emerge by May/June 2023. CM KCR is both Lord Krishna and Arjuna for TRS. We don’t know, who will play these roles in BJP and Congress.


PS: After reading this story, a media friend associated with TRS said: “KCR is having Lord Krishna and Arjuna in the form of KTR and  Harish Rao”. Maybe he is right.   




Rama Krishna Sangem

Ramakrishna chief editor of excel India online magazine and website

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