BJP may force three-cornered contests in a third of Telangana seats; direct BRS-Congress battles in most of the rest

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BJP may force three-cornered contests in a third of Telangana seats; direct BRS-Congress battles in most of the rest

People attend a public meeting of Congress leader Rahul Gandhi ahead of Telangana Assembly elections, at Kollapur in Nagarkurnool district, on Oct. 31, 2023.
| Photo Credit: PTI

As the deadline expires for candidates to withdraw their nominations for the Telangana Assembly election, a better picture has emerged of the serious candidates fielded by major political parties, winnowed from the chaff of non-serious and independent candidates. It is now clear that Telangana is likely to see a three-cornered contest in a third of its constituencies, while the ruling Bharat Rashtra Samiti (BRS) and the Congress seem to be in a direct fight in the rest, despite the presence of other national parties.

The ruling BRS is contesting in all 119 seats while the Congress is in the fight in 118 seats, leaving the Kothagudem seat for its alliance partner, the Communist Party of India (CPI). The BJP has fielded candidates in 111 constituencies, leaving the other nine seats for its alliance partner, the Jana Sena Party (JSP) led by film star Pawan Kalyan. The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) is contesting 107 seats and the CPI (Marxist) is contesting 19 seats.

Triangular fights

The BJP seems to be making its presence felt in about 40 constituencies, while straight BRS-Congress battles are likely in the remaining 79 seats. Three-cornered contests are being seen wherever the BJP has some support, such as in the erstwhile districts of Nizamabad, Karimnagar, Adilabad, Greater Hyderabad, Mahbubnagar, and Warangal.

The Communist parties, which have some presence in the erstwhile Khammam and Nalgonda districts, have also created triangular contests, though the BJP’s presence there is minimal. In the Sirpur Kagaznagar seat in Adilabad district, the BRS and Congress candidates are facing competition from IPS officer-turned-politician and BSP State chief R.S. Praveen Kumar. In the same district, which is dominated by seats reserved for Scheduled Tribes, there is stiff competition between the BRS and Congress in seats like Khanapur, Boath, and Mudhol, while the BJP is also in the fight in the Nirmal constituency represented by Minister Indrakaran Reddy.

The entry of Chief Minister K. Chandrashekar Rao from Kamareddy into the erstwhile Nizamabad district brought focus to the neighbouring constituencies as well. The Congress candidate here is the State party chief A. Revanth Reddy, and the the BJP candidate is also creating some trouble for them here. The BJP is quite strong in the Armoor, Bodhan, Nizamabad Urban, Banswada, and Balkonda constituencies.

BJP impact

The combined Karimnagar district will see some intense three-way fights as the BJP MPs Bandi Sanjay and Dharmapuri Arvind are in the fray and their presence is likely to pump up the party cadre. Karimnagar, Korutla, Jagityal, Vemulawada, and Huzurabad are key constituencies where the BJP is likely to make a huge impact.

Huzurabad saw a high-voltage bypoll in 2020, where Eatala Rajender, after being dropped from the Cabinet by the Chief Minister, quit the BRS, joined the BJP, and won, despite the entire State muscle and machinery being used to favour the BRS candidate.

CPI(M) may split votes

In the combined Khammam district, it will be a straight fight between the BRS and Congress, though the CPI (M) may dent the voteshares of both major parties. The CPI (M) bargained for an alliance with Congress till the last minute, but in vain.

Nalgonda, which has long been a stronghold of the Congress, will also see a third party CPI (M) dividing votes, though the Congress and BRS are the main rivals here, except in the Suryapet constituency where the BJP candidate is also considered strong.

The BRS is hoping to bag big wins in the combined Mahbubnagar district, but the Congress has also come up quite strongly, given its presence there till 2009. The State Congress president, Mr. Reddy, also hails from there, though his constituency, Kodangal, has now been made part of Vikarabad district.

Greater Hyderabad will also see a triangular contest, with the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM), the BRS, and the BJP all putting up a good show, while the Congress has lost its strong leaders to the BRS due to defections since the 2014 election.

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