- Best bet for TRS is to help Congress win
- BJP’s win means a death knell to TRS, Congress
- TRS cannot fight on two fronts
- Need to stop BJP’s juggernaut
With the BJP’s second in command Amit Shah taking up ‘Mission Telangana,’ in right earnest, Munugodu by-election (as a result of the resignation of the sitting MLA Komatireddy Rajagopal Reddy who is all set to join the BJP) is going to become a watershed development. BJP’s win there will put Huzurabad bypoll victory in the pale and it would be seen as a trend-setter for the BJP to romp home in 2023 elections to Telangana Assembly. Komatireddy brothers are as good as with the BJP – Rajagopal Reddy had announced his intentions and his elder brother, Venkata Reddy, is going to do so. Otherwise, he has no business to meet Amit Shah on the day when the top leaders of his party were fighting street battles with the police as part of protest against price rise, hike in GST and growing unemployment. He will find some excuse and jump on to the BJP bandwagon very soon. With senior leaders queuing for quitting the Congress to join the BJP, the balance between the two opposition parties in Telangana is tilting towards the BJP, thanks to Chief Minister and chief of Telangana Rashtra Samiit (TRS) K. Chandrasekhar Rao (KCR).
About six months ago, the Congress party was raring to go. It was seen as the main opposition party to give good fight to the TRS in 2023. It was KCR’s strategy which upped the ante for the BJP. It was KCR who made heroes out of ordinary leaders such as Bandi Sanjay, the TBJP chief, and soft-spoken union minister, Kishan Reddy. It was KCR again who contributed Etala Rajendra, an able and popular leader, to the BJP’s quiver. Should the BJP win the next Assembly elections, it will be largely due to KCR’s wrong strategy of encouraging the BJP and weakening the Congress so that at the end of the day both the opposition parties would be on par and share the anti-incumbency vote equally among themselves helping the ruling party to scrape through. The strategy obviously has boomeranged. Little did he imagine that the BJP would become a force to reckon with. If there is a three-corner contest in Munugodu, the BJP is most likely to emerge victorious. It is not possible for the Congress to stop the BJP. Only KCR can do it.
KCR should have known that having the Congress as the principal opposition is always safer than promoting an aggressive and prosperous BJP. If the Congress candidate loses in Munugodu, the party would go down further and the demand to replace Revanth Reddy as PCC President would gain traction. It would be further weakened which is not in TRS’ interest. Only way to halt the BJP’s juggernaut is by helping the Congress candidate win. Munugodu is, after all, a Congress bastion. KCR of late has not been talking about anti-Congress front at national level. It skipped the meeting of the opposition parties to select candidate for President’s post on the plea that the Congress was attending. However, his party’s representative K. Kesava Rao, MP, had attended the meeting of the opposition parties in which the Vice President candidate Margaret Alva was chosen. The Congress party was very much there in the meeting presided over by NCP leader Sharad Pawar. So, there is a change in KCR’s attitude towards the Congress. It is a sort of course correction. Should the elections throw up a hung Assembly in Telangana, TRS has to take the support of the Congress party to retain power. Post-poll alliance, if necessary, could be in the national interest to keep the BJP away. The best course for the TRS in the given conditions is to opt out of Munugodu contest and help the Congress candidate win. That would reverse the trend for the Congress and help it arrest further migration of leaders to the BJP. It will puncture BJP’s bloated ego giving some respite to KCR. IT and Municipal Administration Minister K. Taraka Rama Rao has rightly said Munugodu is not very important for the TRS. But for the Congress, it is a life and death question. It is in the best interest of TRS to allow the Congress to live. A paradigm shift in KCR’s strategy is the need of the hour.