By Sushil Kutty
Bharatiya Janata Party President Jagat Prakash Nadda must have hit bed Sunday evening with a satisfied smile, but not as wide as the one ‘K’ for King Chandrashekar Rao must have had on his lean face. Stand Nadda and Rao shoulder to shoulder and it will be Laurel & Hardy in desi colours though KCR will assert that his match is with that other ‘N’, Narendra Modi!
True, too. KCR on November 6 beat Prime Minister Narendra Modi with a sizeable push, and some to spare. Nadda’s party, which is also Modi’s fiefdom, the largest political party on the planet, closed Sunday on a high note, but not higher than the one that rang out from Telangana Rashtra Samithi which was recently renamed Bharatiya Rashtra Samithi.
On November 6, KCR strode Telangana like Vamana, the Vishnu avatar who spanned the earth in one step out of the three allowed to him, which means KCR has two more to cut Modi to size. Also, Modi has his work cut out for him in 2023, and 2024 if the Opposition united. Telangana’s Munugode by-election result is full of symbolism, the allegory that could spell Kafkaesque to the BJP, and to Opposition unity.
This, even after the BJP won four out of the seven assembly bypolls and the Congress was “nil-batta-sannata”. The Uddhav Thackeray faction of the Shiv Sena won its first election after the BJP-backed Shinde faction consciously stepped aside. Bottom-line, there’s only cold comfort in the split lane.
So, the BJP notched victory in Uttar Pradesh’s Gola Gokarnnath assembly seat. In Haryana’s Adampur, in Bihar’s Gopalganj, and in Odisha’s Dhamnagar. The Rashtriya Janata Dal found salvation in Bihar’s Mokama and courted defeat in Gopalganj. But KCR was unbeatable in Munugode and the Uddhav Thackeray Shiv Sena bagged Andheri East as expected.
These were some of the Bypoll results. Going into the bypolls, the Congress had held two seats, and the BJP three. The BJP added one more to its earlier tally and the Congress had nothing to show. So, what’s the BJP crying about? The answer is K Chandrashekar Rao and the Telangana Rashtra Samithi’s Munugode victory.
The Munugode assembly seat was held by the Congress. The bypoll was necessitated because the Congress MLA ditched and switched to the BJP. But then, he lost the bypoll and so did the Congress replacement candidate. Left to his own devices, the TRS candidate romped home with over 10,000 votes to spare.
For KCR, the Munugode win is proof that the TRS remains the hot favourite in Telangana. The BJP had put everything into the fight, but couldn’t catch-up. The BJP will have to start all-over again. The loss came on the heels of an alleged BJP attempt to “buy TRS MLAs”.
Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao can now look down on Prime Minister Narendra Modi. With the Munugode result, it’s no longer 56” chest against pigeon chest! Also, Union Home Minister Amit Shah wouldn’t be barging into Hyderabad like he owned the Charminar!
The heart-shaped Hussain Sagar Lake wouldn’t evoke the same feelings for Shah as it used to before Munugode. Also, there’s the Owaisi factor. This set of bypolls revealed that Asaduddin Owaisi and his AIMIM can make or break the BJP in select situations. If in Gopalganj, Bihar, AIMIM presence gave BJP a slender victory, in Munugode, Telangana, AIMIM was a factor in the BJP’s embarrassing defeat.
But for Asaduddin Owaisi’s predatory incursion, Tejaswi Yadav’s Rashtriya Janata Dal wouldn’t have lost Gopalganj. Only a 1000-odd votes separated the RJD from the BJP for the saffron party to post victory. Owaisi’s AIMIM and Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party combined to play spoilsport and hand BJP the platter.
Talk about sleeping with the enemy, the BJP-AIMIM-BSP unsigned coalition of convenience! With friendly parties like Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party and “vote-cutting” AIMIM in the BJP’s corner, potential PM-candidate Nitish Kumar doesn’t need enemies. He might as well remain Chief Minister and Tejaswi Yadav, his deputy!
Opposition parties getting their act together to take on the Bharatiya Janata Party is not gonna happen. In 2023 there will be elections in Meghalaya, Nagaland, Mizoram, Tripura Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Telangana. If Modi can say ‘I am Gujarat’, KCR can also assert ‘I’m Telangana!’. Imagine, Rahul Gandhi and his Bharat Jodo Yatra had just passed through Telangana when Munugode voted! (IPA Service)