Bharat Jodo, Vote Chhodo? Why Rahul Gandhi’s Yatra Didn’t Translate into Votes in Telangana Bypoll

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When a journalist asked Rahul Gandhi at a press conference in Kothur if the Bharat Jodo Yatra would translate into votes for the Congress, the senior leader had replied that the yatra was non-political and its main aim was to spread the message of amity.

After the Munugode bypoll results, one can definitely say that the yatra did not help the Congress.

ALSO READ | Pick-Perfect Move: How TRS Won Munugode Bypoll, But BJP Got the Vote of Confidence

In Munugode, their candidate, Palvai Sravanthi, received 23,906 votes, which amounted to only 10.58% of the vote share. This is the second time in a row that the Grand Old Party lost its deposit in a bypoll in Telangana.

In the Huzurabad bypoll, the Congress candidate managed to grab only 1.46% of the vote share. So although the party increased its vote share, losing deposit in a constituency, which was once a Congress bastion, is a huge blow to the party.

In fact, Sravanthi is the daughter of the late Congress leader Palvai Govardhan Reddy, who was a four-time MLA from Munugode. Most importantly, the bypoll showed the Assembly elections next year might be a bipolar fight between the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). One of the aims of the BJP in the bypoll was to establish itself as a viable alternative to the TRS in the state.

MANPOWER CRUNCH?

Sources say the Congress diverted a lot of manpower towards the Bharat Jodo Yatra during a crucial bypoll. So the yatra might have negatively affected the party’s performance in the bypoll. On the other hand, the other two parties did not leave anything to chance with top leaders from their parties making appearances in the campaigns frequently.

In August, Home Minister Amit Shah held a public meeting in Munugode, signalling that the bypoll was important for them. During the course of the campaign, Union minister G Kishan Reddy, BJP state president Bandi Sanjay Kumar, MLAs Eatala Rajender (Huzurabad bypoll winner), M Raghunandan Rao (Dubbaka bypoll winner) and other leaders gave an all-out fight from the BJP.

From the TRS too, ministers like K Taraka Rama Rao, G Jagadish Reddy and T Harish Rao were seen supporting their candidate, K Prabhakar Reddy. Chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao addressed a public meeting in the constituency just before the campaign ended.

Although TPCC president Revanth Reddy, MP N Uttam Kumar Reddy, Congress Legislature Party leader Mallu Bhatti Vikramarka, former minister Mohd Ali Shabbir campaigned for Sravanthi, they are said to have lost focus in the last leg of campaigning that clashed with Rahul Gandhi’s entry in Telangana.

However, Sravanthi brushed aside these reports while speaking to News18. “This is a delicate topic for me now, but I will just say that I have received ample support from the party and the leadership in this election,” she said.

After the poll results were announced, she said she had held her own against the two ruling parties. She also pointed out that her party had refrained from buying voters with alcohol and liquor, which the rival parties were doing blatantly.

STAR CAMPAIGNER MIA

The ongoing infighting in the Congress added to the party’s woes. Its star campaigner, Bhongir MP Komatireddy Venkat Reddy, refrained from supporting Sravanthi, after he took offence to a few remarks made against him by a Congress leader.

Despite Revanth Reddy tendering an apology to him, Venkat Reddy stuck to his ground and packed his bags for Australia.

In another twist to the drama, a conversation that allegedly took place between the Bhongir MP and a Congress leader was leaked.

In the file, Venkat Reddy could be heard asking others to support his brother, BJP candidate Komatireddy Raj Gopal Reddy. He was issued a show-cause notice for the same.

It remains to be seen if Rahul Gandhi’s yatra garners any votes for his party in the 2023 Assembly elections.

As of now, the yatra could not turn wheels in favour of the Congress. The Congress leader also came under fire when he did not pay respect to former Prime Minister PV Narasimha Rao’s statue on Necklace Road.

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