Three senior TRS leaders – Kesava Rao, B Vinod Kumar and Nama Nageswara Rao – trooped into the CPI office on a cloudy Sunday afternoon to seek its support for its candidate in the Huzurnagar byelection. If the move raised eyebrows, it was not surprising because the TRS had crushed the opposition in December 2018, without any allies. The CPI that time, was a part of the opposition multi-party alliance, led by the Congress and the Telugu Desam.
What does it convey?
One, the TRS knows it has a fight on its hands. The TRS has never won Huzurnagar constituency and is seen as the bastion of Telangana Congress chief Uttam Kumar Reddy. His wife Padmavathi is the Congress candidate this time. CPI is not a strong force but it is clear the TRS wants to ensure the few hundred-thousand votes it will garner come into the TRS kitty.
Two, in public perception, the move punches holes in the assertion by KT Rama Rao, TRS Working president that the party is poised to get over 50 per cent of the vote as per its surveys. If that were so, there was no need for the trio to land up at the CPI office.
However, the counter view to this is that by wooing the CPI, for whatever little it is worth, the TRS has ensured the Left votes do not go into the Congress kitty. Reddy was hoping the CPI will not desert the opposition fold. This will help the TRS narrative that the Congress has been deserted by its friends.
Three, Uttam Kumar Reddy by burying his differences with his Nalgonda district rivals Komatireddy Venkat Reddy and Jana Reddy has ensured the Congress will put up a united fight in Huzurnagar. Revanth Reddy whose differences with the Congress leadership in the state are well-known, will not be a factor in this byelection.
Four, with a large number of sarpanches, lawyers and unemployed youth likely to contest as independents, the TRS would be wary of a repeat of Nizamabad where 177 turmeric farmers were in the fray. K Chandrasekhar Rao’s daughter, sitting MP K Kavitha had lost to the BJP candidate in May.
KCR is not known to woo leaders without a reason. Remember how he enlisted the support of former TDP leader Mandava Venkateswara Rao in Nizamabad just before the elections. That’s because the astute politician that he is, KCR realised that the wind was blowing against Kavitha in the constituency. The TRS outreach to CPI is being interpreted in the same manner.
Five, the moving away of the CPI as does the decision of the TDP to put up its own candidate, is indication that opposition unity has been buried in Telangana. The TDP did not even contest the Lok Sabha elections in Telangana but now Chandrababu Naidu by agreeing to his state unit’s demand that the party contest the bypoll has junked his alliance with the Congress in Telangana for good. Naidu’s presence was a huge liability for the opposition alliance as KCR used it to say that electing them would mean Telangana would be ruled from Amaravati.