Showing signs of increasing its strength in Telangana, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has won the Dubbaka Assembly seat by a margin of 1079 votes after round 25. Four electronic voting machines (EVMs) reportedly had glitches and hence VVPATs were counted instead. It was a close fight between the BJP and the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS).
Though the BJP continued to maintain a comfortable majority for several rounds, the BJP’s initial lead reduced as each round got counted. By round 19, the TRS was ahead with 251 votes. In this nail-biting race, by round 21, the BJP made up for it and secured a lead margin of 620 votes. Round 22 saw the BJP making up for its loss and leading by 1058 votes. When the final 23rd round was counted, BJP's Raghunandan Rao led over the TRS candidate Solipeta Sujatha by 1470 votes. In the final tally, the BJP secured 63,352 votes and the TRS secured 62,273 votes. In 2018, the TRS had secured 89,299 votes and the BJP had polled 22,595 votes from this constituency.
With this victory, the strength of the saffron party in the Telangana Assembly rises to 2 members. This comes as a huge shot in the arm for Bandi Sanjay, the BJP state unit’s newly-appointed chief. This election was also a litmus test for Union Minister of State G Kishen Reddy as this was the first election after he was elevated to the union cabinet.
According to political commentators, BJP’s victory should give jitters to the TRS as the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) elections are around the corner.
Congress had fielded Cheruku Srinivas Reddy, who had defected from the TRS only two days before he formally announced his decision to join the Congress. The Congress candidate is the son of former minister Churuku Muthyam Reddy. Though TPCC Chief Uttam Kumar Reddy had stated that they are confident of a comfortable victory, the Congress party which has ruled united Andhra Pradesh for many years managed to finish only third in the battle for Dubbaka and polled 22,196 votes after round 25. In 2018, the Congress had managed to get 26,799 votes.
The TRS had fielded Solipeta Sujatha, wife of S Ramalinga Reddy, who had passed away in August. They were hoping that the sympathy votes would swing in their favour as it was Reddy’s death that had caused the vacancy in Dubbaka.
The BJP had its hopes pinned on Raghunandan Rao, who had contested earlier as well from the same constituency. He had only secured third place in the 2018 elections.
Initially, though there were talks about a triangular contest, by the end of the election campaigning, it was evident that the real battle was between the BJP and the ruling TRS. All three parties had brought in big names for campaigning. Union Minister G Kishen Reddy and newly-appointed State BJP Chief and Karimnagar MP Bandi Sanjay campaigned for the saffron party. BJP national Vice President D.K. Aruna, party's OBC wing chief K. Laxman, state President Bandi Sanjay Kumar and byelection in-charge Jitender Reddy also campaigned for the BJP candidate.
From the TRS, the entire responsibility was entrusted to Harish Rao, who has been the party’s crisis manager. From the Congress, apart from the TPCC Chief and MP Uttam Kumar Reddy, firebrand leader and MP Revanth Reddy campaigned for the Congress candidate. Komatireddy Venkat Reddy, Congress Legislature Party leader Bhatti Vikramarka, AICC Secretary V. Hanumanth Rao and other senior leaders also hit the roads for an extensive campaign.
TRS’ Ramalinga Reddy has held this seat since 2014. In 2014, Reddy had defeated his nearest rival Mutyam Reddy from the Congress, with a majority of nearly 38,000 votes. In 2018, the TRS candidate retained the city and managed to improve the majority to over 62,000 votes.
Finance Minister T Harish Rao, a leader who enjoys massive support at the grass roots level had run an energetic campaign and he had visited several villages during the campaign phase, hoping his charm would make up for the absence of CM KCR and his son KTR’s absence from the political campaign. He has always maintained that the battle between the Congress and the BJP was only for the second place as the first position was already reserved for the TRS. Though missing from the campaign, the TRS President KCR had set a target of one lakh victory margin for the party leaders.