Spotlight on Munugode as Telangana’s richest politician returns to Cong

Spotlight on Munugode as Telangana’s richest politician returns to Cong

Hyderabad, Nov 12( He quit the Congress to switch loyalties to the BJP and resigned from the Munugode Assembly seat in August last year to force a bypoll and less than a year after suffering a defeat in the bypoll, he returned to the Congress and secured a ticket to enter the electoral fray once again. This is Komatireddy Rajgopal Reddy, the wealthiest politician in Telangana.

Unfazed by criticism for shifting loyalties twice in a year and the dissent his return caused in the Congress camp, the businessman-politician has hit the road to get a fresh mandate from the people of Munugode in Nalgonda district.

Raising a banner of revolt over the grand old party readmitting Rajgopal Reddy, Congress leader Chalamala Krishna Reddy, who was a ticket aspirant, quit the party and joined the BJP, which lost no time in naming him as its candidate from Munugode.

With the ruling Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) fielding sitting MLA Kusukuntla Prabhakar Reddy, Munugode is set to witness a three-cornered contest.

Rajgopal Reddy was elected in 2018 by defeating Prabhakar Reddy of the BRS by a margin of 22,457 votes. While Rajgopal Reddy polled 96,961 votes (50.51 per cent), Prabhakar Reddy secured 74,504 votes (30.13 per cent). The BJP’s G Manohar Reddy was a distant third with 12,704 votes (6.39 per cent).

While a dozen of the 19 MLAs of the Congress had crossed over to the BRS a few months after the 2018 polls, Rajgopal Reddy had remained in the Congress but kept embarrassing the party leadership with his public praise for the BJP.

Just a year before the Assembly elections, Rajgopal defected to the BJP, saying it alone can bring an end to the “atrocious” rule of KCR and his family. The BJP was elated as it sensed another opportunity after victories in two bypolls to prove itself as the only viable alternative to the BRS.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah personally came to Munugode to address a public meeting and to welcome Rajgopal Reddy into the party.

The November 3 bypoll caused by Rajgopal’s resignation had attracted national attention with a no-holds-barred fight between the BRS and the BJP.

The BRS claimed that Rajagopal Reddy’s infrastructure company was awarded a Rs 18,000 crore contract in return for his resignation as a Congress MLA and joining the BJP. While admitting that his company received the contracts, he said this was much before he switched loyalties.

Determined to check the saffron surge, KCR had garnered the support of the Left parties and declared that the bypoll outcome will send a message to the entire country.

The campaign saw both sides making serious allegations of misuse of official machinery and distribution of money, liquor and other goodies to lure voters.

In the bitterly contested bypoll, BRS wrested the seat with a narrow margin of 10,309 votes. Prabhakar Reddy polled 97,006 (42.95 per cent) votes and Rajagopal Reddy secured 86,697 (38.38 per cent) votes. The Congress party’s Palvai Sravanthi Reddy finished a distant third with 23,906 (10.58 per cent) votes.

With the BJP losing steam after its bypoll defeat, Rajagopal Reddy was keeping himself away from party activities. He was also not happy with the style of functioning of then state BJP chief Bandi Sanjay Kumar. The BJP leadership had tried to pacify the wily politician by making him a member of the national executive.

Last month, he was also made chairman of the screening committee for the Assembly elections. With the Congress gaining momentum following its victory in Karnataka, Rajagopal Reddy decided to jump ship again.

His brother and Congress MP from Bhongir, Komatireddy Venkat Reddy is said to have negotiated with the party leadership to pave the way for his return.

It will be interesting to see, if Rajagopal Reddy gets back all the votes which were transferred to the BJP in the bypoll while retaining the support of the Congress voters.

Meanwhile, Rajagopal Reddy has emerged as the richest candidate in the state with assets of Rs.458 crore.

He was elected to the Lok Sabha from Bhongir in 2009, defeating his nearest rival Nomula Narsimaiah of CPI(M) by a margin of nearly 1.40 lakh votes. He, however, lost the 2014 election from the same constituency to Burra Narsaiah of the BRS. He was later elected to the Telangana Legislative Council.

Source: IANS

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