TRS wins both the high-stakes graduates’ constituency Legislative Council elections in Telangana

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TRS working president K.T. Rama Rao (left) with Surabhi Vani Devi, MLC candidate, during a campaign meeting in Hyderabad on March 10. Photo: NAGARA GOPAL

Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao (left) greets Palla Rajeshwar Reddy on his win, in Hyderabad on March 21. Photo: PTI

The ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) of Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao won both seats on offer in the just-concluded, hotly contested biennial elections to two seats of the Telangana State Legislative Council from the graduates’ constituencies. Surabhi Vani Devi, the daughter of former Indian Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao, wrested the Hyderabad-Rangareddy-Mahbubnagar seat from N. Ramchander Rao, the incumbent Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MLC, by polling 1,89,339 lakh votes. The Nalgonda-Warangal-Khammam seat was retained by the incumbent Palla Rajeshwar Reddy, albeit by the skin of his teeth. Reddy polled 1,61,811 votes and beat his nearest rival independent candidate Teenmar Mallanna, who was a journalist once, by 12,806 votes. The TRS was helped by the fact that in both the seats there was a three-way split in the anti-TRS vote.

Surabhi Vani Devi, who had to endure a nerve-racking 90 hour of counting and secured a total of 1,89,339 votes, vanquished two-time MLC and independent candidate Prof K. Nageshwar and Congress nominee G. Chinna Reddy on the way to her win.

With the number of valid ballots polled being 3,37,039 in the Hyderabad-Rangareddy-Mahbubnagar election, the winning candidate had to secure at least one vote over and above the 50 per cent mark of the total valid ballots polled, that is, 1,68,520 votes. After the hotly contested elimination rounds, when 91 of the 93 candidates in the fray were knocked out of the race, it was left to Surabhi Vani Devi and Ramachander Rao to fight it to the finish. In the process of elimination, contestants with the lowest polled first preference votes are eliminated from the contest and their second preference votes apportioned to the respective candidates still in the fray.

The keenness of the March 17 election battle can be gauged from the fact that a jumbo ballot paper, with larger than usual ballot boxes, had to be used be used for the Mahbubnagar-Rangareddy-Hyderabad graduate constituency, thanks to a record 93 candidates contesting. In the previous election, 18 candidates had contested. The Nalgonda-Warangal-Khammam constituency witnessed 73 contestants.

While elections to the graduates’ constituency seats do not normally attract too much attention, the recent elections were an exception. It was an open secret that K.T. Rama Rao, TRS working president and son of the Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao, had made winning the two seats a matter of prestige and had personally taken up the task of working out the party’s strategy. Also queering the election pitch was the presence in the fray of two renowned academics.

The fact that the elections were being held before the elections to the Warangal and Khammam Municipal Corporations and Nagarjuna Sagar Assembly constituency byelection on April 17 gave the outcome an added importance. By winning them both, the ruling TRS has reinforced its political supremacy, checkmating the BJP, which has been cock-a-hoop after its surprise win last November in the Dubbak Assembly by-election and its credible showing in the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation elections a month later. For the BJP, every election prior to the 2023 Assembly election is of paramount importance if it is to appropriate the space vacated by the Congress and propagate the idea that it is the only viable alternative to the TRS.

Winning these two seats will add to the brute majority that the TRS commands in the Telangana legislature’s upper house. But these seats do matter since they cover 75 of the State’s 119 Assembly constituencies. The Hyderabad-Rangareddy-Mahbubnagar seat alone accounts for 41 of the Assembly constituencies in Telangana.

For now, the pink party of Chandrasekhar Rao continues to lord over Telangana. Said T. Srinivas Yadavv, Animal Husbandry Minister: “The MLC poll results are a slap on the face of our critics.”

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