Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao is getting ready to play his favourite gamble — the bypoll war. With two Congress MLAs disqualified from the Telangana State Assembly, by-elections seem imminent. The TRS chief is understood to have taken this as an opportunity to prove a point to his opponents — that he can face elections anytime and emerge victorious. The impending by-poll to these two seats is already being termed as the ‘semi-finals’ before the grand 2019 finale.

It’s not just about winning the elections; Rao wants to tame the Congress in its own backyard. South Telangana is considered to be a Congress bastion and the party had won the most number of seats in erstwhile Nalgonda and Mahbubnagar districts in 2014 polls. Even though TRS has won all the by-polls it faced since 2014 and also the GHMC, GWMC and Municipal Corporation of Khammam elections, it faced a humbling defeat in local body MLC elections of Nalgonda and Mahbubnagar.

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Now, riding on popular sentiments, TRS is hoping to bag the by-polls. Incidentally, in both the seats that might go for polls, Nalgonda in Nalgonda district and Alampur in the newly created Jogulamba Gadwal district, the TRS stood in third place in the 2014 elections which itself was an indication of the pink party’s strength in south Telangana. Alampur seat is reserved for SC candidates. In Alampur segment, it was TDP that emerged as the runner-up. In Nalgonda too, a rebel TDP leader who contested as an independent candidate came second in the 2014 polls.

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Four years down the lane, the TDP is now being considered a ‘non-player’ in the state political arena, with all its main leaders shifting to other parties including the TRS and Congress. This leaves the TRS and Congress in a straight contest at both the seats. The Pink party is of the view that the joining of Kancherla Bhoopal Reddy, the leader who stood second in Nalgonda Assembly election in 2014, has boosted the party strength in Nalgonda. Bhoopal Reddy was with TDP, but fought the 2014 elections as an independent after the TDP could not give him party ticket as the seat went to BJP.

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Further weakening the Congress prospects is Nalgonda MP Gutha Sukhender Reddy, who won on Congress ticket and then shifted to TRS. “The TRS gained strength with the joining of Bhoopal Reddy and Sukhender Reddy and the former is already in campaign mode for 2019 elections. This will give an edge to the TRS,’’ a party leader said. TRS local leader Dubbaka Narasimha Reddy, who unsuccessfully contested the seat in 2014 is also likely to support to Bhoopal Reddy.

In Alampur, though the TRS does not has a formidable candidate, it is still banking on Manda Sreenath, son of former MP Manda Jagannadham. Here, the TDP candidate who stood second in the 2014 elections, VM Abraham, is not active any more. #Khabar4Live