Telangana political parties weighing all caste factors ahead of Munugode bye-election

While the BJP is expected to field Komatireddy Rajagopal, the TRS and the Congress are considering the caste equations in the constituency to take a decision about their candidate in the Munugode bye-election.
Telangana Congress chief Revanth Reddy, Chief Minister KCR, BJP chief Bandi Sanjay Kumar against a backdrop of Telangana map: Telangana political parties weighing all caste factors ahead of Munugode bye-election
Telangana Congress chief Revanth Reddy, Chief Minister KCR, BJP chief Bandi Sanjay Kumar against a backdrop of Telangana map: Telangana political parties weighing all caste factors ahead of Munugode bye-election
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The upcoming Munugode bye-election has had political parties strategising based on caste dynamics to ensure they emerge victorious in the election. The majority of voters in Munugode belong to the Backward Classes (BC) community and hence communities like Gouds, Yadavs, and Padmashalis are expected to be the deciding factors in this bye-election.

Social construct of Munugode

Munugode assembly constituency is in Nalgonda district and part of the Bhongir Lok Sabha constituency and has roughly around 2.1 lakh voters. The vote share of the BC communities forms a lion’s share of the electorate. The Goud and the Mudiraj communities constitute around 30% of the electorate, while the Yadavs constitute nearly 10%. The Padmashali community constitutes around 5% of the total electorate.

While the Reddy community forms nearly 3.5% of the electorate, the SC community which includes both Madigas and the Malas constitute nearly 16.5% of the electorate. The ST communities constitute nearly 10% of the electorate. Muslims constitute nearly 3.5% of the vote share. The rest of the electorate consists of Kammas, Munnurukapus, Velamas, and other castes.

Political leaders and communities

In the 2018 election, Komatireddy Rajagopal Reddy from the Congress won the Munugode election. In the previous election in 2014 it was Kusukuntla Prabhakar Reddy from the TRS who had emerged victorious. Prior to these two elections, the Communist Party of India had won two elections in 2004 and 2014. The Munugode seat has predominantly been a Congress stronghold. Palvai Govardhan Reddy from the Congress was elected as the MLA from this constituency five times in the past. This time with the sitting MLA shifting to BJP and likely to recontest, it will be interesting to watch if the BJP will make its debut in this constituency.

Madhu Yashki Goud and Cheruku Sudhakar are Congress leaders from the Goud (BC) community. For the Congress, Chelamalla Krishna Reddy and Palvai Shravanti Reddy are its options from the Reddy community. Palvai Shravanti Reddy is the daughter of Congress stalwart Palvai Govardhan Reddy. 

Former TRS MP Boora Narsaiah Goud is from the Goud community. Karnati Vidyasagar, another contender for the ticket from the TRS belongs to the Padmashali (BC) community. Naraboyina Ravi from the TRS who has also been lobbying for the ticket from the TRS belongs to the Mudiraj (BC) community.

As the BJP is all set to announce Komatireddy Rajagopal Reddy as its candidate it remains to be seen whether the TRS and the Congress will also choose to go with a Reddy candidate or a leader from the BC community. When it comes to the Reddy community, the options are plenty for the TRS and the Congress. Kusukuntla Prabhakar Reddy and Kancharla Krishna Reddy are lobbying for the ticket from the TRS. Kancharla Krishna Reddy is the brother of Nalgonda TRS MLA Kancharla Bhupal Reddy. Gutha Sukender Reddy is another big name from the same community in the TRS. He is seeking the ticket either for himself or for his son Gutha Amit Reddy.

Will TRS choose a Reddy or a BC leader?

The TRS high command is caught between selecting a candidate from the Reddy or the BC communities for the Munugode bye-election. Leaders from both communities are lobbying to convince the high command for the ticket. As BJP is all set to field Komatireddy Rajagopal Reddy and the Congress is likely to field Palvai Sravanthi Reddy, both candidates from the Reddy community, the BC leaders in Munugode are pushing for the TRS to choose a BC leader. They feel the BC factor will help consolidate the BC vote share in the constituency which constitutes a majority.

Speaking to TNM, a TRS leader, on the condition of anonymity said there are several other factors like ground support, track record, family legacy etc that also need to be considered even while looking at candidates from a particular community. “Initially, Kusukuntla Prabhakar Reddy was said to be the choice, but now the high command is taking several other factors into consideration too. The infighting within the TRS in Munugode is an important factor to consider. However, there is no infight that the TRS is incapable of containing. KCR’s decision will be final and all leaders will support the one who gets the ticket.”

“If the Congress doesn’t give Palvai Sravanti the ticket, she is likely to jump to the TRS and may end up being the TRS’s choice for Munugode. She is the only woman in the race and also has a proven family history.”

Poll observers feel that choosing a candidate from one particular community from among many BC communities may prove to be a difficult task to consolidate the existing BC vote bank. TRS leaders told TNM that choosing a Reddy candidate may actually work better for the party to help consolidate the BC vote bank. While Kusukuntla Prabhakar Reddy is believed to be the preferred choice for the TRS high command, other BC leaders are also being considered. 

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