A triangular contest is likely in the November 3 by-elections to Dubbaka Assembly constituency in Telangana where the poll process kicks off on Friday.
By fielding Cheruku Srinivas Reddy, who had defected from the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) only two days ago, the opposition Congress is hoping to give a tough fight to the ruling party.
On the other hand, the TRS appears confident to retain the seat as it has fielded Solipeta Sujatha, wife of S. Ramalinga Reddy, whose death in August caused the vacancy.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has again given ticket to Raghunandan Rao, who had finished a poor third in the 2018 election.
While the TRS is way ahead of its rivals in the campaign, a battery of Congress leaders have also hit the campaign trail soon after the central leadership cleared the candidature of Srinivas Reddy, son of former state minister Cheruku Muthyam Reddy, late Wednesday.
Both Sujatha and Srinivas Reddy are first time testing their luck at the hustings. Raghunandan Rao is contesting the polls for the third time. He had finished third in 2014 polls as well.
The Congress is looking to wrest the seat from the TRS, which has held it since 2014. Ramalinga Reddy had then defeated his nearest rival Mutyam Reddy of Congress by nearly 38,000 votes. The TRS candidate retained the seat in the 2018 election as the margin of victory improved to over 62,000 votes. M. Nageshwar Reddy of Congress was the runners-up.
Banking on sympathy and performance during the last six years, TRS leaders are confident that it will be a cakewalk for the party. Chief Minister and TRS President K. Chandrasekhar Rao has even set the target of one lakh victory margin for the party leaders.
For the last several days, Finance Minister T. Harish Rao has been running an intensive campaign visiting villages. “No one can stop TRS from retaining the seat by a margin of over one lakh votes,” said Harish Rao, who is the nephew of the Chief Minister.
Harish Rao believes that the Congress and the BJP are competing for the second place in Dubbaka by-poll.
The Congress, however, is looking to upset the TRS calculation by fielding Srinivas Reddy, who switched loyalties after the TRS denied him the ticket. State Congress chief N. Uttam Kumar Reddy, MPs A. Revanth Reddy and Komatireddy Venkat Reddy, Congress Legislature Party leader Bhatti Vikramarka, AICC Secretary V. Hanumanth Rao and other senior leaders hit the roads for an extensive campaign.
The BJP too is gearing up to put up a strong fight in the bypoll, the first since the TRS retained power with a massive majority in 2018. Its leaders claim that people look at the BJP as an alternative to the TRS.
Union Minister of State for Home G. Kishan Reddy, 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 are drawing plans for an effective campaign.
The gazette notification for the bypoll will be issued on October 9. October 16 will be the last date for receiving nominations. The scrutiny of nominations will take place on October 17, while October 19 will be the last date for withdrawal of candidatures.
Polling will be held on November 3 while counting of votes will take place on November 10.
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