HYDERABAD: The Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) has every reason to smile as it could keep its core voter base more or less intact irrespective of the party winning or losing in the five bypolls that the state witnessed after the 2018 Assembly elections.
The voting pattern has also punctured the opposition’s claims of a strong anti-incumbency. On the other hand, the bypoll outcomes have been increasingly highlighting what the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) needed to do to stake a claim to being the TRS’ principal rival for 2023 – have a recognisable face in more than 90 per cent of the Assembly segments.
State BJP president Bandi Sanjay on Sunday described the Munugode result as a reflection of the party’s position as the TRS’ principal rival. In reality, the saffron party could win Dubbak and Huzurabad and missed Munugode narrowly because the candidates were strong. “The individuals added strength to the party rather than making gains out of it,” pointed out a BJP leader, who has become popular in recent times.
With hardly one year to go for the Assembly polls, the BJP would have to poach strong leaders from the TRS and the Congress to remain in the fray and avoid the drubbing as in Huzurnagar and Nagarjunasagar.
Significantly, the party leaders, notwithstanding the alleged ‘poachgate ’scandal, have been openly declaring that the party would force more bypolls, which was the strategy that the TRS boss K. Chandrashekar Rao had adopted before the state’s bifurcation.
In Munugode, K. Prabhakar Reddy polled 97,000 votes for the TRS in the bypoll as against the 74,687 the party secured in the 2018 state election. The additional vote the TRS got is considered to be mainly from the Left parties, which backed it this time.
“Had Rajgopal Reddy not been a candidate, the BJP’s score would have remained at 12,000-odd it got in 2018,” TRS leader Dasoju Sravan pointed out.
In the Huzurnagar bypoll the TRS improved its vote tally from 85,530 in 2018 to 1,13,094 a year later and in Nagarjunasagar the votes the TRS polled went up from 83,743 to 88,982. In both places, the BJP lost its deposit, securing 1.31 per cent and four per cent of the vote respectively.
In Huzurabad, Eatala Rajendar got 1.04 lakh votes in 2018 and just 2,000 more in the fiercely contested 2021 bypoll against the 80,000 votes secured by the TRS candidate. Analysing the voting pattern, the TRS leaders claimed that the party’s vote base remained more or less intact and that Rajendar could only win with the Congress vote. In Dubbak alone, the party’s performance was on downslide in the bypoll but the percentage of drop in votes was less than 30 per cent.