TRS wins high-voltage Munugode bypoll after neck-and-neck fight


It won a tight fight. It won with a decisive majority of over 10,000 votes. It achieved the win after investing extraordinary levels of fight, deploying unprecedented levels of assets, including nearly 100 legislators and ministers. But it won, and nothing else matters.

After months of political slugfest, the pink party grabbed the prize in the tri-cornered contest, which was billed as a potential bellwether for the Assembly elections. In politics, while there are second chances, there is no second prize.

All analysis of silver linings must be set aside to concede that the BJP tactic of pushing a byelection in Telangana by the resignation and shifting of party by Congress legislator Komatireddy Rajgopal Reddy failed, and Rajgopal Reddy, brave rhetoric apart, lost. As did the ambitious BJP, whose vaulting over-ambition led it to somersault and fall on its face.

Telangana’s post 2018 elections overall score of bypolls stands thus: TRS – 3 (Huzurnagar, Nagarjunsagar and Munugode), BJP – 2 (Dubbak and Huzurabad), and Congress – zilch.

Sunday’s counting was unveiled with a deceptive four-vote lead for the TRS in the postal ballot round, followed by a solid lead in the first. The BJP flattered to deceive, leading the next two rounds – promising a thriller. But the pink party led in every single round thereafter.

Too much evidence points to both major parties spending too much money, distributing too much liquor, and promising too many things to win each vote. The high voter percentage itself was a proof of money spent lavishly, and illegally.

The Congress, which changed its mind to give the ticket to a woman, the only one in the fray, and daughter of a late veteran, who represented the constituency several times, fought well and fiercely, but was sadly out of the race right from the start. For starters, she had no money. Second, she lost most second-level leaders to focused poaching. Thirdly, sympathy and goodwill aside, no one really believed the Congress was a serious challenger in this fight.

The fight, however, was significant, with Palvai Sravanthi, despite losing her deposit, polling over 23,000 votes and tilting the battle away from the BJP towards the TRS. That alone might have been the biggest difference in the end between Huzurabad and Munugode.

While Rajgopal Reddy was bigger and more central to the polls than the BJP, the party was much bigger than Kusukuntla Prabhakar Reddy, the candidate the TRS fielded. Most people chose the overall leadership of Chief Minister K. Chandrashekar Rao in deciding the winner while the runner-up polled the votes for his own individual bid to be re-elected, but it was found short.

Both parties and candidates played the all-in mode – holding back nothing. The long drawn campaign was Machiavellian in its totality and construct; nothing but a win mattered. Allegations and counter-allegations abounded. Fabrications, fake news, stretched truth were all thrown into the cauldron. Logic and emotions were twisted to set a narrative.

In the end, people voted for the car symbol, the TRS, setting to rest, at least for now, if there is a burning desire to see a change of those in power in the state. The car has manoeuvred itself out of a tight jam, and will ride easy on the highway of victory for over a year.

If history records it as the last ever election of the TRS, it was only fair, it goes with a win.

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