HYDERABAD: The new kid on the block, Nomula Bhagath, has made it. Leveraging on the mojo of Chief Minister K Chanrasekhar Rao, using the overwhelming support from the people of his Yadava caste and drawing heavily on his father Narasimhaiah’s legacy, Bhagath could vanquish Congress’ seven-time MLA and a doughty leader — K Jana Reddy in the byelection for Nagarjuna Sagar Assembly seat by a margin of more than 18,000 votes.
All through the counting process, Bhagath maintained a comfortable lead over his nearest rival Jana Reddy as his hopes that the welfare schemes of the TRS government would see him through, came true. There are about 1.5 lakh people who are the beneficiaries of one or the other welfare scheme. This apart, KCR had announced a slew of lift irrigation projects for Nagarjuna Sagar, the long felt need of the farmers.
After the declaration of the result, KCR, thanking the people, said: “I will complete all lift irrigation schemes in record time. I will visit the Nagarjuna Sagar constituency with Bhagath and address all the pending issues.”The icing on the cake for the TRS was that KCR, by ensuring the victory of software engineer-turned-advocate Bhagath, has helped the party establish that the BJP is a party of no consequence.
This comes in the backdrop of the saffron party leaders shouting from the rooftops that they were the main contenders for power in the next Assembly elections. With BJP candidate Dr P Ravi Kumar even losing his security deposit, it has become more or less clear, at least for now, that neither the BJP nor the Congress is going to move KCR’s cheese on the day of reckoning. It is said that when KCR nominated Bhagath, it was not merely the sympathy factor that he had in mind, since pinning hopes on it may not be wise at all times.
He plumped for Bhagath because he was counting more on Yadavas, the caste to which Bhagat belongs, as they are numerically strong in the constituency. In the past, KCR had burnt his fingers by fielding Sujatha, widow of Solipata Ramalinga Reddy, for Dubbaka byelection in Medak district, solely basing on sympathy factor.
Winning Nagarjuna Sagar had not been like a walk in the park for the TRS as it had to contend with Congress’ ‘war veteran’ Jana Reddy. After the demise of Narasimhaiah, the TRS did not have a candidate for the seat. Even as it tried to reach out to Jana Reddy and asked him to switch parties, the BJP, which too faced the same predicament of lack of candidates of stature, contacted the Congress leader with inducements of a gubernatorial position if he made his son contest on BJP ticket.
But Jana Reddy chose to stick with Congress with the result that the both the TRS and BJP had to look elsewhere for candidates. At one time the TRS planned to field the likes of Legislative Council chairman Gutta Sukhender Reddy, but it quickly dropped the idea since the BJP was getting ready to announce a Yadava candidate if the TRS nominated a Reddy. After the TRS nominated Bhagath, a yadav, the BJP, with no option left, fielded a relatively nondescript tribal doctor P Ravi Kumar but he could not rise to the occasion.
After Narasimhaiah’s death, the challenge that the Nagarjuna Sagar byelection had posed was by no means small for the TRS, given the proximity of 2013 general elections. The BJP was in an aggressive mood after winning Dubbaka byelection and putting up a spirited performance in the GHMC elections. It kept proclaiming that no force on earth can stop it from staking claim for power in the next Assembly elections in 2023.
The TRS, having sensed the inherent danger, applied its mind to the political course correction that was needed to halt and then reverse the disquieting trend. Then when the MLC elections arrived, the party quickly identified its grey area — overconfidence, and meticulously planned its approach to the two polls and succeeded in retaining Nalgonda and wresting from BJP the Hyderabad seat without much difficulty.
The party’s triumph in these two elections slowed down the ebullience of the BJP and its plans to bear down on the TRS. Now the victory at Nagarjuna Sagar is expected to take the sting out of BJP’s argument that it is the answer to the TRS.
Not a cakewalk
After Nomula’s death, the challenge that the bypoll had posed was by no means small for the TRS. The BJP was in an aggressive mood after winning Dubbaka and putting up a spirited performance in the GHMC