The BJP is gearing up for a test of its strength, or the weakness of the ruling TRS in the southern part of Telangana, by forcing a bye-election in Munugode Assembly constituency. The saffron party seems to have succeeded in wooing Congress MLA Komatireddy Rajagopal Reddy, by arranging a meeting with Union Home Minister Amit Shah in Delhi last week. Reddy, hitherto a strong Congress man having served as MP, MLA and MLC, is extremely keen on switching loyalties to the BJP. "BJP alone can defeat the TRS in the state. I see no scope of the Congress coming to power," asserted Rajagopal, revealing his intentions to leave the party. His brother Venkat Reddy also with the Congress, is strong in Nalgonda district of the southern region.
Komatireddy joining their party is not just a question of numbers for the BJP. A bye-election, if necessitated by his resignation on account of changing party, will help the party try and strengthen its base in this region. The BJP has been trying its best to consolidate its strength in this region for quite some time. During his visit to Telangana, Amit Shah spent three days in Nalgonda and also had lunch at a Dalit's home in May 2017. However, it did not pay expected dividends in the 2018 December assembly polls.
In north Telangana, the BJP exhibited its strength by defeating the TRS in the recent Dubbak and Huzurabad bye-elections. TRS supremo and chief minister K Chandrashekar Rao got the biggest shock, when his close aide and finance minister Eatala Rajender won on BJP ticket around four months ago. Dubbak MLA Raghunandan has been a BJP man for long.
His decision to move to BJP will create a domino effect and spur many others to join the saffron party, believes 55-year-old Rajagopal Reddy. “The BJP already has a considerable presence in north Telangana. If I join the party, the focus will be on the entire Telangana region with the party’s presence in the south getting a boost,” said Rajagopal Reddy.
While there have been speculations about Rajagopal Reddy dumping the Congress to embrace the BJP for a long time now, his recent meeting with the Union Home Minister in Delhi has sparked discussion. The BJP strongly believes Rajagopal’s resignation will make way for a bye-election – another golden opportunity for the saffron party.
The entire lane leading to Komatireddy Rajagopal Reddy’s house has been teeming with vehicles and people for the last few days. The Munugode Congress MLA has been meeting people from his constituency to discuss with them about taking the political plunge to dump the Congress and join the BJP. The MLA has around 12 meetings scheduled until Friday with people of his constituency.
While there were reports of Reddy being wary of a bye-election at this moment, he told TNM that if his supporters feel it is important that he resigns, he would go ahead with his decision.
When asked when he would announce his final decision, the Munugode MLA reiterated that he would do it soon. Speaking about the response from his meetings with his constituents, Reddy said, “They also feel that it is better that I resign now and contest from a party that will be able to support my development plans.”
While it seems like Rajagopal Reddy has made up his mind and it is only a matter of time when he will announce his decision formally, BJP chief Bandi Sanjay confirmed to a local channel that Rajagopal Reddy will be joining the BJP.