The campaign in Dubbaka by-poll ended on Sunday evening on a dramatic note. There were allegations, counter allegations, complaints to the Central Election Commission by both the TRS and the BJP and there was an immolation attempt by a BJP worker to boot.  TRS working president K. Taraka Rama Rao  (KTR) has alleged that BJP has planned to create violence in order to generate a sympathy wave. Currency note bundles worth one crore rupees were seized from BJP candidate Raghunandana Rao’s brother-in-law. Complaints have been filed with the Election Commission. The campaign had generated more heat than expected with the aggressive ways the BJP had adopted.

Prestigious for several reasons  

Dubbaka by-poll has become prestigious for more than one reason. The first and foremost reason is the fight between the two national parties, the BJP and the Congress, for the second position. Although both parties claimed to be fighting for an outright win in Dubbaka, the fact is that they were struggling  to decide who is going to be the main challenger  to the TRS in 2023 assembly elections. If the BJP, which ended up in third position in 2018 elections in Dubbaka, succeeds in establishing itself in the second slot, it can go about campaigning that it is the true rival of the ruling party. The second reason is that both parties have new leaders at the helm. Manickam Tagore was appointed at AICC in-charge of the Congress party in Telangana State only recently. Bandi Sanjay replaced Dr. Lakshman as TS BJP head a few weeks back. Dubbaka is the first test they are facing  as party leaders. Both Tagore and Sanjay are keen on establishing themselves as leaders of consequence. Kishan Reddy also is involved in first election campaign after he took over as a union minister.

Both national parties equally poised

The BJP had won four seats and the Congress three in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. The Congress party has cadres and votes across the State where as the BJP is yet to get noticed in some of the districts while it has increased its hold in the districts in which it has its presence. The BJP had won Karimnagar, the seat won by Bandi Sanjay, BJP State president, Nizamabad, where KCR’s daughter Kavita was trounced by Arivnd, son of D. Srinivas, twice PCC president  in undivided AP, who later joined the TRS, Adilabad and Secunderabad which returned G. Kishan Reddy who went on to become a union minister. For the Congress, the PCC president Uttam Kumar Reddy has won Nalgonda seat while the working president of the PCC Revanth Reddy was elected from Malkajgiri in Hyderabad city. The third seat for the Congress was won by Komatireddy Venkata Reddy from Bhongir. Both the parties are equally poised. Whichever party wins Dubbaka by-election or at least comes second, it can claim to be the main challenger to the TRS which would be facing two term anti-incumbency by 2023 assembly elections.

Manickam Tagore united Congress leaders

Manickam Tagore has succeeded in energizing the demoralized State unit of the Congress party by bringing about a modicum of discipline and unity in a short time after he took over the responsibility. The young leader from Tamil Nadu has settled down quickly and spoke to all important leaders and gave them a roadmap. The leaders of various factions who were pulling in different directions thus far were persuaded to sink their differences and work together with a purpose. ‘Perform or perish’ was the message Tagore could successfully impart to the leaders. Top guns of the Congress party including Uttam Kumar Reddy, Revanth Reddy, Bhatti Vikramarka, V. Hanumantha Rao were seen working hard in the streets of Dubbaka.

Bandi Sanjay created combative atmosphere

Bandi Sanjay had to stay in Delhi for most of the days after being appointed as State BJP chief due to Covid. Soon after reaching Hyderabad he plunged into intensive activity. He got arrested, sat on fast and mobilized party cadres to demonstrate before Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhara Rao (KCR)’s residence, ‘Pragati Bhavan.’ Sanjay could create a combative atmosphere to give a picture that it is the BJP which was really fighting the ruling party sincerely and not the Congress. Kishan Reddy was available to party workers by parking himself in Hyderabad during the crucial days of the campaign. The BJP candidate Raghunanadan Rao, who is in the fray for the third time, has been assiduously nursing the constituency.

BJP candidate distracted

However, the cash seizure controversies have unsettled Raghunanadan Rao’s campaign by causing dislocation and avoidable pressures. Homes of his relatives in Siddipet were raided and cash was seized. On the last day of the campaign, one crore rupees worth cash was seized from a vehicle in which Raghunanadan Rao’s brother-in-law Surabhi Srinivasa Rao was travelling. Srinivasa Rao and Ravi Kumar, driver of the car, have conceded that the cash was meant to be distributed to the voters in Dubbaka, according to Hyderabad city commission of police Anjani Kumar. TRS as well as the BJP have complained to the Election Commission and the Director General of Police, TS.

Protesting the recent arrest of Sanjay at Siddipet, a youngster by name Srinivas, a cable operator, set himself ablaze in front of the BJP State party office at Nampally around noon on Sunday. He was taken to Yasoda hospitals. Kishan Reddy and Sanjay, besides many other leaders, had visited the hospital to see the young man who had burns over fifty percent of the body. His condition is stated to be serious.

Sympathy for TRS candidate

Observes have no doubt about the outcome of the poll. Ramalinga Reddy, who died recently causing the by-poll, was a popular leader. He was close to the people winning the seat a number of times. His wife, Sujata, has popular sympathy. Telangana Finance Minister T. Harish Rao is known as a capable leader who has been in touch with the people of Dubbaka. He never lost any election where he campaigned so far. Chief Minister K.C.R or Minister for Municipal Administration KTR did not campaign in Dubbaka. Harish Rao took the responsibility of the campaign. He worked very hard and replied to the criticism mounted by the BJP and the Congress leader in a fitting manner. Many constituency and district level leaders from the BJP and the Congress had joined the TRS in Harish Rao’s presence after the nominations were filed and the campaign was in progress.

More women voters

There are 1,98,807 voters comprising 97,978 men, 100,778 women and 51 service voters, according to Returning Office B. Chennaiah. “Out of the 315 polling stations in the constituency, 89 are sensitive, and adequate security arrangements have been made, he said. The question to be decided by the people of Dubbaka is who is going to occupy the second slot, whether it is the Congress or the BJP. The decision of the voters will be delivered  on Tuesday and will be known after a week, on 10 November 2020.


(This Article has been reposted with permission from Primepost)