Buoyed by Bharat Jodo Yatra, Telangana Congress gets going in crucial bypoll contest

The campaigning for the Munugode Assembly bypoll in Telangana is taking place in a charged environment, with both the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) and the BJP giving it their all to bag the constituency. Now, months after the two parties started their campaign, the Congress has started its groundwork in the constituency to ensure that it stays in the race. This new-found enthusiasm in the Telangana Pradesh Congress Committee (TPCC), sources said, was the result of the ongoing “Bharat Jodo (Unite India)” march of Rahul Gandhi.

TPCC chief A Revanth Reddy has flown to Kerala to walk alongside Gandhi. Back in Telangana, the party, which is plagued by factionalism, infighting, and resentment towards Reddy, is trying to get its act together. TPCC chairperson M Bhatti Vikramarka, former TPCC chief and Nalgonda MP N Uttam Reddy, and TPCC political affairs committee convener and former minister Mohammed Ali Shabbir are among the leaders who have held meetings in Munugode in recent days and have called on the cadre to work hard in an organised manner to ensure party candidate Palvai Sravanthi’s victory in the by-election.

The bypoll was necessitated by the resignation of Komatireddy Rajagopal Reddy on August 2. Rajagopal Reddy quit the Congress citing differences with Revanth Reddy. AICC spokesperson Dr Dasoju Sravan followed suit and days later joined the BJP along with Rajagopal Reddy. Both blamed Revanth Reddy’s “autocratic’’ style of functioning. At the time, Vikramarka, Uttam Kumar Reddy, and Ali refused to comment on the matter.

In the last week of August, both Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao, or KCR, and Union Home Minister Amit Shah addressed public meetings in Munugode, setting the stage for a fierce contest between the two parties. For the BJP, which is looking to expand its footprint in the state, the bypoll is a crucial test.

But the Congress is not giving up. “Rahul Gandhi’s yatra has infused enthusiasm in the TPCC. All the leaders are coming together and are talking of working together again, and are appealing to the cadre to work hard to ensure a win in Munugode,’’ said a party leader.

Vikramaraka chaired a meeting on Monday to discuss a strategy for the bypoll. He said the party was about to launch a major drive to ensure that traditional voters remain with the party. “We are deploying seasoned Congress workers to work with booth-level workers to ensure our support base is not erased. All Congress leaders are coming together to ensure that we retain the Munugode seat,” he said.

The following day, Ali, who is in charge of the constituency’s Chandur mandal for the by-election, convened a meeting of key leaders. Among those who attended the meeting were former minister and Munugode in-charge Damodar Reddy; coordinator and former MLA Dr Vamshi Krishna; former government whip E Anil; Youth Congress president Shivasena Reddy; and Kamareddy district Congress Committee president Kailasa Srinivas.

The Congress has also asked its Mulug MLA D Anasuya (known as Seethakka) and Nalgonda district in-charge C Vijay Ramana Rao to meet people and highlight welfare schemes initiated under the Congress government.

Ali said the Congress would intensify its door-to-door campaign in Munugode to “expose the failures” of the TRS-led state government and the BJP government at the Centre. The constituency, he added, had always been the party’s stronghold.

“The Congress got a lead of nearly 5,000 votes in Chandur mandal in the previous election. This time too, Chandur mandal will maintain its lead in the entire constituency. Our entire cadre is fully motivated and we will not leave any stone unturned to win this by-election,” Ali said.

The Congress leader accused Rajagopal Reddy of “betraying” the people of Munugode for personal gains. “We will expose the unholy alliance between the TRS and the BJP and how both the parties have been cheating the people of Telangana for the last eight years,” he said.

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