A divided Congress to take on TRS, BJP in Telangana bypoll in Huzurnagar

Though the country’s eyes will be riveted on what happens in the assembly elections in Maharashtra and Haryana and even the bypolls to the 15 seats in Karnataka, a byelection in Huzurnagar in Telangana will be what India’s youngest state will be looking at closely. The Congress party’s Telangana chief Uttam Kumar Reddy had won this seat in December 2018 assembly elections but resigned after he was elected to the Lok Sabha from Nalgonda constituency.

Reddy obviously thought that as PCC chief and the former MLA, he reserved the right to choose the candidate. His choice is Padmavathi, his wife, who lost the assembly election from Kodad. Apart from an obvious personal interest in her candidature and beefing up support for himself within the Congress in Telangana, Reddy was also factoring in the loyalty factor. This is because 12 of the 19 MLAs who were elected on a Congress ticket last year, are already now part of the ruling TRS camp. One of them, Sabitha Indra Reddy, has been made Education minister as well.

Telangana PCC chief Uttam Kumar Reddy at Congress Headquarters (file pic)

But the Congress is not Congress if there is no dissent. Telangana Congress Working President Revanth Reddy challenged Uttam Reddy’s prerogative to decide on the candidate and backed spokesperson Kiran Kumar Reddy for the ticket. That only made the anti-Revanth camp in the Congress gang up against him. In the politics of district domination, three powerful Reddy leaders – Uttam, Komatireddy Venkat Reddy and Jana Reddy – are miffed at Revanth who hails from Mahbubnagar, poking his nose into affairs of Nalgonda district.

The TRS that is hoping to take advantage of the faultlines in the Telangana Congress has fielded Saidi Reddy who lost to Uttam Reddy by over 7000 votes in 2018. 

The third party in the race will be the BJP that secured a paltry 1555 votes in 2018. But this time buoyed by its performance in the Lok Sabha elections in April-May 2019, when it won four seats, it hopes to do better. Its reputation as an opposition face will be at stake. Which is why the BJP is trying to get a formidable candidate to contest. While its Suryapet district chief Venkateswara Rao has evinced interest, interestingly, the buzz in Nalgonda is that Rajgopal Reddy, a Congress MLA who is keen to join the BJP, wants his wife to be fielded as a candidate by the saffron party. That will completely expose the divisions in the Congress because Rajgopal Reddy’s brother Venkat Reddy who is an MP, has backed Padmavati’s candidature for now. 

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