Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) has stunned the Opposition, especially the Congress, by snatching the Huzurnagar assembly seat in the by-election. The seat was held by Congress party’s state unit president, Uttam Kumar Reddy. TRS nominee, Sanampudi Saidi Reddy, defeated his nearest Congress rival Padmavati, wife of Uttam Kumar Reddy, by 43,000 votes.
The Congress incumbent, who won the seat in 2009, 2014 and 2018 had moved to contest the Nalgonda Lok Sabha polls earlier this year, with his wife filing nomination for the bypoll. Though, his party’s new working president, Revanth Reddy, who defected from TDP to join the party before the Assembly polls, opposed the candidature of Padmavati, yet Uttam Kumar Reddy’s writ prevailed. Many in the party feel that the obvious differences between the two Congress leaders had led to the TRS arch rival wresting away the seat.
For TRS, it is a shot-in-the arm. More so, after Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao defied the state High Court directive – twice – regarding inviting the representatives of the 50,000 striking workers of the Road Transport Corporation (RTC) employees for talks. The strike has entered into its 20th day. The court has also directed the government to submit an ‘action taken’ report on the agitation by October 28.
Many expected the RTC strike to have an adverse impact on the ruling party’s poll prospects in Huzurnagar. But KCR, who did not address a single election rally -- including the one which had to be cancelled due to bad weather -- appeared confident that his party would win.
A jubilant ruling party leader claimed that the bypoll victory was a clear endorsement of KCR's form of governance. “Huzurnagar people have reposed their faith, notwithstanding the Congress and other Opposition members’ allegations against the leader describing him as the ‘fascist’, ‘feudal lord’ or ‘dictator’," said MLA Mynampalli Hanumantha Rao.
Meanwhile, KCR, who, according to observers, appears to be determined to teach the agitating RTC employees a lesson, may go ahead and sack them en-masse. A source close to the chief minister’s office said: “There is no question of going back on the stance taken by the government. The chief minister has already put a ‘fresh recruitment’ process to replace the existing staff, as they were deemed to have ‘self-dismissed’ themselves by defying the government’s appeal.” According to him, a three-member committee, consisting of IAS officers, has already started looking into this possibility.
The source also said that the government would invite private operators to “share 50 per cent of the burden” of the corporation. Those who know KCR say the chief minister may go in for privatisation of the age-old corporation.
The BJP, which made a lot of efforts to make its presence felt in Huzurnagar, saw its candidate losing the election deposit. Similar was the case with the TDP candidate.