The trouble-some rebel haunting menace, which is much pronounced in the Congress, but the BRS is no exception to the inevitable roadblock to victory and BJP also getting troubled with unsung aspirants to contest in elections.

The three major political parties — the BRS, Congress, and BJP — locked in the electoral battle in Telangana are facing threats from rebels disenchanted over the denial of party tickets to contest the 30 November Assembly polls.

With the last date for withdrawing nominations just two days away, the political formations are seeking all means to placate the rebel candidates.

The deadline for withdrawing nominations is Wednesday, 15 November.

The presence of the rebels in the fray may eat into the official candidates’ vote share, and hence the parties are going all out, promising better opportunities, to make them withdraw from the contest.

The rebel menace is quite pronounced in the Congress, but the BJP is also battling the problem.

And the ruling BRS has not been spared either, creating roadblocks and causing tensions to rise as it seeks to ride to victory for a third time.

Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao himself is facing a problem — though not insurmountable — with mass nominations in Gajwel. On the last day for filing the nomination papers, 145 people had filed 154 nominations, the highest in the state.

The nominations, of course, included those of the official candidates of the major three political parties as well.

Interestingly, many of those who had filed nominations in Gajwel are the owners of Shankar Hills flats in Vattinagaulapally in the Rangareddy district. They are angry with the government over its decision to demolish the flats to expand the Outer Ring Road (ORR).

They were insisting that they have legal documents and permissions for their flats. They argued that the government neither gave compensation nor made any alternative arrangements for them.

Sugarcane farmers demanding the reopening of the Mutyampet sugar factory, too, have filed nominations. The closed sugar mill is located in Jagtial district’s Mallapur mandal.

About 30 nominations were filed by those who belong to Telangana martyrs’ families, unemployed youths, and those who had lost their lands after the Dharani portal came into existence.

The BRS leaders are sparing no efforts to make them withdraw from the contest as their presence would only mar the image of the chief minister, but could have a fallout in other segments. The leaders are contacting every one who filed nomination papers and pleading with them to withdraw from the contest.

In Peddapalli, the BRS official candidate D Manohar Reddy has N Manohar Reddy and Vivek Patel in the fray as rebels. In Madhira, official BRS candidate Lingala Kamal Raju has to battle Bammera Ramamurthy, who might split the BRS votes. In Wyra, official candidate Madan Lal has to take on BRS ticket aspirant L Haribabu. In Mulugu, BRS nominee Bade Naga Jyothi will have to watch out for trouble from P Soma Naik.

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While the BRS is not without its dose of rebel problem, it is not on the scale that is dogging the Congress.

Congress woes

In the Congress, the problem is more severe. In Palakurhy, official candidate Mamidala Yashaswini is facing competition from former District Congress Committee (DCC) president Janga Raghava Reddy. He contested as a rebel in the last two elections and got as much votes as the Congress. There is also another Congress rebel, TPCC spokesperson Bandi Sudhakar Goud, on the electoral battlefield.

In Adilabad, the official candidate is Kandi Srinivasa Reddy, an NRI who is locally considered an outsider. Former agriculture market committee chairman Sanjiva Reddy is in the fray as a rebel. He has the backing of the party leaders in the district.

In Boath, the Congress replaced its official nominee Vannela Kishare with Ade Gajender in a last-minute rejig, which made him join the race as a rebel candidate. There is another rebel in the mix, Naresh Jadhav. In Banswada, K Balaraju who attempted suicide after learning that he was not allotted a ticket, is adamant about teaching the party a lesson.

In Suryapet, the drama continued till the last minute on the choice of a candidate. The party finally decided to sail with former minister R Damodar Reddy, leaving Patel Ramesh Reddy, who fought till the last minute, in the lurch. He is now in the fray as an All India Forward Bloc candidate.

In Narsapur, Gali Anil Kumar became a rebel, after the Congress nominated Avula Raji Reddy. Anil Kumar took out a massive rally to file his nomination papers. His supporters waved Congress flags and banners as if he was the official candidate.

In Choppadandi, Naga Shekhar, after filing his nomination papers as a rebel candidate, is campaigning using the photographs of AICC leaders Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi. The official candidate is Satyam, who was reportedly selected based on survey reports.

In Dornakal, after Jalothu Ramchander Naik was named as the official candidate, Malothu Nehru Naik and Bhupal Naik defied the party diktat and filed nominations as rebel candidates.

In Paliar, Ramasahayam Madhavi Reddy, who is in the fray as a rebel, took up cudgels against Congress official candidate Ponguleti Srinivasa Reddy. She was denied a ticket though she had worked for the party for the last decade, Madhavi said.

Similarly, in Pinapaka, Aswaraopet, and Illendu, there are rebels against the official Congress nominees. In Pinapaka, it is P Vijay Gandhi; in Aswaraopet, it is Sunna Nagamani; and in Illendu there are six rebels: G Ravi Naik, Ch Venkateswarlu, Mangilal Naik, Ramachader Naik, Praveen Naik, and Nagamani.

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Minor trouble for BJP

The BJP, meanwhile, is not facing too many problems on the rebel front.

In Vemulavada, former Zilla Parishad chairperson Thula Uma is in the fray as BJP rebel against the official nominee, Chenamaneni Vivek Rao, who is the son of former Governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao.

In Asifabad, K Vijay Kumar is continuing as a rebel, while in Chennur, A Srinias is giving anxious moments to the party’s official candidate.

In Bellampally, there is Venkata Krishna while in Peddapally, there are three BJP rebels: G Vivek Reddy, K Sadanandam, and K Srinivasulu.

On the other hand, the BJP, which is as keen as the BRS to ensure that the latter remains in power for a third term, is expected to unleash a campaign blitzkrieg as the 30 November Telangana Assembly election draws close.

Apart from a host of senior leaders, its top campaigner, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, is expected to address multiple rallies and step up the attack against the ruling BRS and its leader, Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao, popularly referred to as KCR.

Also in the works is a plan under which Modi would announce the inclusion of two dozen more castes in the list of Backward Classes (BCs), and likely support the categorisation of Scheduled Castes (SCs) — a demand pending since decades.

The BJP’s worry is that if the Congress wins in Telangana — apart from Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, which the party is expected to wrest and retain, respectively — it may lead to a change of perception about the grand old party ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha election.

For the BJP, the ideal outcome in Telangana would be a BRS win — especially if it is narrow enough that it requires the backing of the saffron party.

How will a campaign blitz help BRS?

If readers are wondering how a campaign blitz by the BJP would help the BRS, it comes from the belief that a better performance by the BJP would help split the anti-BRS vote sufficiently to prevent the Congress from having a real shot at power.

From a peak of 20-plus percentage vote share that it was expected to notch up six months ago, the BJP has seen a sudden slide in fortunes, so much so that its vote share has dropped to 10-12 percent, according to multiple surveys.

This has caused concern not only in the BJP, but also the BRS, which was sitting pretty in the hope that a split in Opposition votes would see it sail through comfortably.

The loss of momentum for the BJP began with the change of leadership at the state level a few months ago, when Karimnagar MP Bandi Sanjay Kumar, a combative critic of the BRS, was replaced by the more soft-spoken Union Minister G Kishan Reddy.

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Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao’s daughter and BRS MLC K Kavita not being arrested in the Delhi liquor scam, as well as a perceived softness by BRS leaders in attacking the BJP also contributed to the party losing its edge as the one taking on the ruling dispension.

The KCR factor

“Being critical of each other was always in the interests of the BJP and the BRS. The Congress has succeeded in creating the impression in the minds of people that the BJP and BRS on the same page,” a senior BJP leader confided in a conversation with #Khabarlive.

According to him, there exists clear anti-incumbency and a sense of fatigue with BRS rule, but it’s also a fact that there is shared prosperity in villages because of uninterrupted availability of water and power. Land values have gone up and there is less misery in villages, with KCR being seen as the benefactor for this.

Both the Congress and BJP camps believe that the former stands a greater chance of upsetting the BRS if the BJP’s vote share drops to 10 percent or below. On the other hand, if an aggressive, last-minute campaign by the BJP helps it gain a better vote share (around 15), it will be easy going for KCR.

If the desertion by BJP leaders to the Congress in recent weeks, and the reluctance of its own leaders to contest the Assembly elections is any indication, the chances of BJP’s graph rising from the current level are remote.

Can the strategy backfire?

What if the BJP’s strident attack on BRS turns out to be counter-productive?

Take, for instance, the sinking of Medigadda barrage piers. Soon after the National Dam Safety Authority came out with its finding on Friday, 3 November, that the barrage, on which thousands of crores have been spent, is “useless”, the BJP sharpened its attack.

From Union Minister for Jal Shakti Gajendra Singh Shekhawat to state BJP leaders, there was a concerted attack on how the report “exposed” the corruption indulged in by KCR in building projects.

What if the people believe in what the BJP leaders are saying and decide to go against KCR, but vote for the Congress instead of the saffron party because, realistically, the grand old party alone has the chance to dislodge BRS?

The BJP leader that #Khabarlive spoke to pointed out that while there is visible anti-incumbency and a mood for change, there is still no evidence of a tsunami of anger against KCR.

“As long as the election is between Congress and KCR, the latter will have the edge. But if turns out to be people vs KCR, he will be in trouble. The next 10 days will indicate which way the mood is swinging,” he said. ■ #hydnews #Khabarlive #hydkhabar

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A senior journalist having 25 years of experience in national and international publications and media houses across the globe in various positions. A multi-lingual personality with desk multi-tasking skills. He belongs to Hyderabad in India. Ahssanuddin's work is driven by his desire to create clarity, connection, and a shared sense of purpose through the power of the written word. His background as an writer informs his approach to writing. Years of analyzing text and building news means that adapting to a reporting voice, tone, and unique needs comes as second nature.