Why KCR is hopeful of winning Munugode

The Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS), determined to wrest the Munugode Assembly seat, appears to have found its 'brahmastra'


MUNUGODE: The Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS), determined to wrest the Munugode Assembly seat, appears to have found its 'brahmastra' (potent weapon) in welfare to steal the thunder from the BJP and the Congress.

KCR is going to blow the bugle and make a loud war cry on Saturday from Munugode at his public meeting.

Ever since Komatireddy Rajgopal Reddy quit the Congress and necessitated the by-election here, the ruling party of Telangana is quietly putting its plans into practice to ensure victory and thus secure a psychological edge over others before the 2023 elections.

In a clear sign of a paradigm shift in its approach, the TRS is relying heavily on the welfare plank to reap a rich haul of a positive vote. Right from NTR to YSR, there were a few iconic leaders who could thrive on a welfare plank even in the midst of boisterous political rhetoric. They were successful in their endeavours largely because of their well-entrenched welfare measures.

With Dubbak and Huzurabad providing a reality check, the KCR-led TRS apparently decided to go back to the roots and use welfare politics as a perfect recipe for success in Munugode. The vituperative launched in the most recent public meetings of KCR in Vikarabad and Medchal and the stealth in TRS ground work within the constituency stand testimony to this fact. Even in the case of Munugode, KCR appears to be reinforcing his usual exterior of a fiery warrior when addressing his adversaries.

The strategy now is to ostensibly highlight its popular schemes like Aasara pensions, crop loan waiver and Rythu Bandhu.

The change in strategy to highlight its flagship sops is reported to be the fallout of intense brainstorming within the party, based on a vast wealth of data and statistics. Some crucial pointers, painting a promising picture, have seemingly bolstered the KCR regime's confidence to brag about its welfare raj in the state.

The TRS leadership, it is believed, was particularly buoyed by the fact that Munugode alone hosted about three lakh beneficiaries of various state government schemes in the last eight years. This is a huge chunk of vote bank besides its own consolidated base of cadre in the Assembly constituency which the TRS wants to tap into and ensure a comfortable victory in Munugode. Significantly, most of these three lakh beneficiaries are from the marginalised sections, financially and socially.

Also, the statistics show that the KCR government had spent approximately Rs 10,260 crores towards welfare to benefit a total of 3,34,994 beneficiaries since the formation of a separate Telangana state in 2014. There are 1,01,161 beneficiaries of Rythu Bandhu, 42,148 beneficiaries of crop loan waiver, 8,917 of Kalyana Lakshmi/Shaadi Mubarak and 40,543 beneficiaries of Aasara pensions in the constituency. The TRS leadership sees a huge opportunity in it to highlight its commitment to Munugode and in the same breath corner the rivals, especially Komatireddy Rajgopal Reddy, its last legislator.

According to highly placed sources, the TRS will soon be going full steam in making the official data public. The focus is going to be on presenting the contrasting picture of development in Munugode: How much the people benefitted between 2014 and 2018 under the TRS rule and then how is the scenario from 2018 till now when Rajgopal Reddy was its legislator.

KCR is understood to be aiming at three birds with one shot from his strategy to flaunt the welfare muscle for Munugode. The statistics suggest that the votes of beneficiaries of the government schemes could not be monopolised by any one party in 2018 and were scattered largely between the Congress and the TRS. Trying to attract as many of them back to his party's fold is one imminent objective for KCR.

Also, the TRS chief intends to push Rajgopal Reddy on to the backfoot while giving a befitting retort to Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his opposition to freebies and the disdainful tone in which he described them as 'revdi' culture.

The feeling is that, in a more constituency-centric message, the statistics could do all the talking to counter the former Congress MLA's accusation of 'empty promises' against the TRS government.

The Munugode contest appears more as a psychological battle than an electoral contest and no one can discount the influence of political arithmetics in it. But from a TRS perspective, it is an opportunity waiting to be grabbed especially to suit KCR's design to write the script for the bigger canvass of 2023 Assembly elections right from Munugode itself.

That TRS is a party that would perform first and then come to the electorate for votes is the image that KCR wants to project for his party to silence the opposition voices which are getting shriller. And Munugode becomes the perfect launch pad for him to proliferate this message across the state well in advance.

The ruling party would also be wary of the fact that KCR's absence from campaigning cost them Dubbaka and Huzurabad where disgruntled TRS deserters contested on behalf of the BJP and upset its applecart. In a nutshell, the electoral battles here were waged more on personality cult than issues on the ground.

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