BJP candidate Eatala Rajender on Tuesday won the keenly-watched by-poll held to Huzurabad Assembly constituency in Telangana, defeating the ruling TRS nominee Gellu Srinivas Yadav by a margin of 24,068 votes. The bypoll outcome is seen as a setback to ruling TRS and a boost to the BJP’s plans to emerge as the alternative to TRS in Telangana in the 2023 assembly elections. While Rajender secured 1,06,780 votes, Srinivas Yadav of TRS got 82,712 votes. Congress candidate Venkat Balmoori came a distant third with 3,012 votes.
Rajender has maintained a consistent lead over his TRS rival except for a couple of rounds as the counting of votes progressed since Tuesday morning. The by-election was necessitated in Huzurabad in view of the resignation of Rajender in June following his removal from the state Cabinet over allegations of land-grabbing.
Rajender, who dismissed the allegations, had quit TRS and joined BJP. He sought re-election on BJP ticket. Faced with a do-or-die battle, Rajender began his campaign soon after his resignation. He has been representing the constituency since 2004.
A popular leader who belongs to the backward classes, Rajender had served as the leader of TRS in undivided Andhra Pradesh Assembly and later as minister for finance and health in the TRS regime of Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao (after formation of separate Telangana in 2014). State BJP president and MP Bandi Sanjay Kumar, Union Tourism Minister G Kishan Reddy and other BJP leaders campaigned for Rajender in the bypoll.
Seeking to demonstrate its dominance in state politics, the ruling TRS conducted a massive campaign led by state Finance Minister T Harish Rao though the CM did not participate in the campaign. The TRS government announced a flagship welfare scheme for Dalits, named ‘Dalit Bandhu’, with a pilot being implemented in Huzurabad.
Talking to reporters after his election, Rajender alleged misuse of power and use of money power by the TRS. He expressed gratitude to the electorate for his victory. He thanked the state and Central leaders of BJP for their role and support in the campaign.
Meanwhile, TRS Working President and state minister K T Rama Rao said the TRS has many highs and lows in the last 20 years. The result of this one election will not be of much significance or consequence, he tweeted. Complimenting TRS candidate Srinivas Yadav for his spirited fight, Rama Rao, son of Chief Minister Chandrasekhar Rao, appealed to all TRS workers to work with increased resolve “to forge ahead in future battles”.
Faced with a humiliating defeat, state Congress president and MP A Revanth Reddy said he takes responsibility for the outcome and vowed to work with increased zeal to win over people’s confidence in the future. He appealed to the partymen to not to be upset with the result.