Will Raghunandan Survive The Sympathy Wave In Dubbak By-poll?

 - Sakshi Post

The BJP announced M Raghunandan Rao as its candidate for the November 3 bypoll in the Dubbak assembly segment in Telangana. A lawyer by profession and a politician with passion, Raghunandan has already kick-started his campaigning in the constituency, which is going to witness a triangular contest involving the ruling TRS party, Congress and BJP.

Despite the the high personal hopes on this by-election, it is not going to be easy for Raghunandan to take on the mighty TRS and the Congress for two reasons. One, the sympathy factor arising out of the death of incumbent MLA Solipeta Ramalinga Reddy, which, by conventional thinking, should help his widow, who is contesting on the TRS ticket. Secondly, the BJP hasn't had a good foothold in the constituency even though they rank and file of the saffron party is upbeat about its resurgence in several parts of Telangana including Dubbak in the recent past. More than anything, here is the most crucial factor that can end up upsetting Raghunandan's apple cart. The constituency falls in Finance Minister Harish Rao's Siddipet district. It is anybody's guess how tough the road ahead for the BJP here given the track record of Harish Rao, often referred to as the troubleshooter for the party, and a towering leader with near-impeccable track record in ensuring electoral victories for his party single-handedly.

As if these adverse factors were not enough, Raghunandan's name was associated with a case of huge cash seizure on the outskirts of Hyderabad a few days ago. The Cyberabad police have seized Rs 40 lakh unaccounted cash when it was being transported to Dubbak and was meant for distribution to the voters there to lure them into the fold. The police claimed that the four persons caught with the illegal cash are the followers of Raghunandan Rao.

After conducting an analysis of the call records, the police stated that the money was destined to be distributed in the Dubbak Assembly constituency on Raghunandan Rao's behalf for the bypolls. And this is not all, there is widespread perception that the BJP leader has not been entirely successful in bringing together all leaders of the party in the district to vigorously campaign for him in the constituency.

Incidentally, Raghunandan Rao had contested from here in the 2018 Assembly election as well. Unfortunately, he finished a poor third, way behind the eventual winner Ramalinga Reddy. Ramalinga Reddy of the TRS received 89,299 votes that amounted to 54.36 percent of the total 1,64,281 votes polled. TRS continued its dominance in Dubbak since then till the unfortunate demise of the sitting MLA Ramalinga Reddy. Now, KCR has set a target of one lakh vote majority and has given the responsibility to Finance Minister K Harish Rao.

Raghunandan Rao was once a popular spokesperson of the TRS. But around the time a separate Telangana state was formed, he quit the party. Many within the political circles believe that he left the TRS due to his differences with Harish Rao and a few key leaders. Harish Rao, who has been personally going around the constituency extensively, is leaving no stone unturned to defeat both the Congress and the BJP. Having ended up as a poor third last time, will Raghunandan Rao be able to improve his vote score this time is the only question that is of interest for political observers here. Because, winning the by-election and wresting this seat from the well-entrenched TRS braving a sympathy wave appears to be a dream that is far too distant for this BJP leader.

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