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The TRS, now BRS, and its chief K Chandrashekar Rao do not have happy memories of the Huzurabad byelection of November 2021. It was where KCR had to bite the dust, and that too in a contest with a man he had forced out of the party and into the arms of the BJP — Eatala Rajender.
On a high after strengthening himself in the Assembly by steadily decimating the Congress by poaching its MLAs, it was hubris that led KCR to misread the constituency and give the ticket to Gellu Srinivas Yadav, a Kapu, to take on Rajender in his stomping ground (he had won the seat four times already).
In the event, Rajender beat the lightweight Kapu by almost 24,000 votes, giving the BJP not only a seat where it had zero presence till then, but also the confidence that it could take on the BRS if it had the right candidate. It is a strategy it repeated in Munugode, where it came close to succeeding yet again.
Now, here is a “what if” scenario: Just days ahead of Huzurabad byelection, the BRS had welcomed into its fold Padi Kaushik Reddy from the Congress. A leader often described as “young and dynamic”, there was talk that he would be the party candidate from Huzurabad. As Congress candidate he had lost to Rajender in the 2018 election, but had garnered almost 35 percent of the vote.
What if he was the BRS candidate? Would he have felled Rajender on his home ground and thus halted the BJP in its tracks as well? We will never know.
While we are still months away from parties declaring their candidates for individual constituencies, the BRS seems to have decided that it will rectify its mistake of 2021 and field Kaushik Reddy, now a BRS MLC, to take on Rajender.
Earlier this week, KCR’s son and IT Minister KT Rama Rao addressed a huge public meeting at Jammikunta, with Kaushik Reddy by his side. He praised to high skies the “young sportsperson” who has been tirelessly working in the constituency.
While he did not outright name Kaushik Reddy as the party candidate, he did not leave too many people in any doubt about what the decision would be when the time came.
He also launched a tirade against Rajender, calling him a betrayer who who bit the hand that fed him. Clearly, he shares his father’s dislike for the man and defeating him would be a priority. Will Kaushik Reddy help them wreak vengeance?