Telangana graduates by election: Congress does it again; Its candidate Teenmar Mallanna trumps BRS’ Rakesh

Congress appeared to signal that it was not against the BCs, by nominating Mallanna, who comes from the Munnuru Kapu community, a BC caste.

ByRaj Rayasam

Published Jun 08, 2024 | 11:22 AM Updated Jun 08, 2024 | 11:33 AM

Teenmar Mallanna with Revanth Reddy

Inflicting a crushing defeat on BRS, Chintapandu Naveen Kumar alias Teenmar Mallanna of Congress wrested Warangal-Khammam-Nalgonda graduates’ seat in the Telangana Legislative Council, late at night on Friday, 7 June.

Mallanna took sweet revenge against the BRS which fielded A Rakesh Reddy for the by-election which has been necessitated by the resignation of incumbent BRS member Palla Rajeswar Reddy, consequent to his election to the Assembly from Janagaon in December 2023.

In 2021, Palla Rajeswar Reddy won the seat, defeating Teenmar Mallanna.

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Focus on educational background

The BRS had pinned hopes on Rakesh Reddy. As a graduate of BITS Pilani, the BRS thought the voters would prefer him over his rival Teenmar Mallanna who completed his MBA from JNTU, Hyderabad.

BRS working president KT Rama Rao kept focusing on Rakesh Reddy’s educational background and contrasted it with Teenmar Mallanna, who he alleged, had a shady past.

But as far as Mallanna was concerned, he fought the by-election, focusing all his energies. With Congress supporting his candidature, his prospects appeared bright since the beginning.

The party announced his candidature for the by-election very early even before the closure of nominations for the Lok Sabha elections.

After facing backlash for nominating very few backward caste candidates in the recently concluded Lok Sabha polls, the Congress tried to negate the impression by announcing Mallana’s name for the council seat much ahead of all others.

The party appeared to send a signal that it was not against the BCs, by nominating Mallanna, who comes from the Munnuru Kapu community, a BC caste.

Counting of votes

The counting of votes for the by-election for the graduates’ constituency took a very long time since none of the candidates reached the winning mark at the end of the counting of first preference votes necessitating counting of the second preference votes.

Of the total 4.63 lakh voters, 3.36 lakh had cast their votes.

Mallanna secured 1.22 lakh votes at the end of the counting of first preference votes while Rakesh Reddy polled 1.04 lakh, and BJP’s G Premender Reddy polled 43,313 votes.

Mallanna thus had about 18,000 votes majority in the first preference votes.

After the elimination of BJP’s Premender Reddy, Mallanna had over 1.46 lakh votes at the end of the counting of second preference votes, while Rakesh Reddy got over 1.31 lakh votes but ended out in the elimination round.

The counting of votes began on Wednesday, 5 June, and continued non-stop till late into Friday night.

Though in second preference votes, Rakesh Reddy polled 4,000 more votes than Malla Reddy, they were not of much help since Mallanna by then was way ahead of him with first preference votes.

As many as 20,000 of the voters did not indicate their second preference. Rakesh Reddy who pinned hopes on the second preference votes, lost out on this count. Mallanna, finally, emerged victorious.

‘Lost morally’

Rakesh Reddy, after realising that his defeat was imminent, said that he may have lost the election technically, but he had won the contest morally. He said he had to fight against an army of Congress leaders.

About five ministers and 32 MLAs campaigned for Mallanna, he said and pointed out that though he had lost the election, he had put up a fight till the very end.

The by-election took place close on the heels of the drubbing the BRS received in the hands of the Congress in the November-December Assembly elections.

Since the beginning, the BRS was confident of winning the seat. KTR took it as a prestige issue and campaigned for him extensively.

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BRS’ losing streak

The party wanted to win the seat to change the perception that the BRS was on a losing streak. It was necessary to create an impression that the BRS had bounced back from the abysmal depths of defeat it had plunged in the Assembly elections.

The BRS’ victory in the by-election for the legislative council from Mahbubnagar Local Authorities Constituencies, which gave an indication that the party’s fortunes were, after all, looking up, proved to be a flash in the pan, more like a “dead-cat bounce.”

Mallanna had won the graduates’ seat in his third attempt. In 2015, he fought the election as an independent for the seat for the first time but he lost it.

In 2021, he again contested as an independent but lost to Palla Rajeswar Reddy. In 2019, he fought the Huzurnagar Assembly by-election but lost it too.

(Edited by Sumavarsha Kandula)