Huzurabad bypoll win boosts BJP's confidence for 2023

Huzurabad bypoll: Eatala's victory boosts BJP's confidence to fight TRS in 2023

The result would improve the saffron party's tally in the state assembly to three

Former Telangana health minister Eatala Rajender. Credit: DH Photo

Former Telangana health minister Eatala Rajender managed to continue his winning streak in Huzurabad, having retained the assembly constituency this time on a BJP ticket.

In an election seen as an intense "ego" battle between Eatala and his former-boss chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao rather than between the TRS and BJP, “the beleaguered leader” has won with a majority of 24,068 votes over the ruling party candidate Gellu Srinivas.

The result would however improve the saffron party's tally in the state assembly to three, while also allowing it to re-project itself as the right alternative to the TRS. Telangana assembly elections are two years away from now.

Receiving just 3,012 votes, Congress candidate Balmoor Venkat has lost his deposit. Party leaders are engaged in a blame game, following the humiliation.

The Huzurabad gain for the BJP comes again in November. The BJP wrested the Dubbaka assembly seat from the TRS last year.

The saffron party carried the momentum into the Hyderabad civic polls in December winning an astounding 48 wards out of 150. However, it suffered defeats thereafter in Nagarjuna Sagar by-poll, MLC and local body elections.

Such was the interest generated in the high stakes Huzurabad by-poll that the polling percentage on Saturday was 86.33, higher than the 84.4 per cent voting in the 2018 assembly elections.

The north Telangana constituency fell vacant in June after Eatala resigned from TRS and the assembly membership following charges of land grabbing and a probe initiated into the same by the Rao government. The four-time MLA later joined the BJP.

The Huzurabad victory, observers say, is a reflection of Eatala's long association with his native region, the developmental activities carried out there, and the sympathy among the public over his unceremonious exit from the TRS.

“Huzurabad by-poll would mark the beginning of the end of KCR's dictatorship,” Eatala had warned, while setting out on a padayatra in the constituency in July.

Faced with the combination of the "vengeful" and experienced leader and an emerging BJP, CM Rao had even brought in Dalit-bandhu, a scheme providing Rs 10 lakh financial support for Dalit families. Ahead of the polls schedule announcement, it was launched as a pilot project in Huzurabad, with a considerable share of Scheduled Caste voters.

While the TRS has deployed its party resources and senior ministers like Harish Rao in the constituency, CM Rao has kept himself away from the poll campaign, which detractors say “is because KCR sniffed a defeat”.

After the Saturday voting, Eatala accused the TRS of spending about Rs 500 crores in the constituency to entice voters and trounce him.

The Congress party had last week demanded the election commission cancel the polls, accusing the TRS and BJP leaders of bribing Rs 6000 to 10,000 for each vote.

“Huzurabad bye-poll could have become the most expensive election in the history of Indian democracy as both TRS and BJP splurged money earned through corruption,” AICC spokesperson Dr Dasoju Sravan said.

In startling scenes reflective of the ever-growing menace in Telangana, voters of some Huzurabad villages, especially women had staged protests, road blockades two days ahead of the by-poll alleging uneven, unfair distribution of cash.

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