On 10 November, the Bharatiya Janata Party won the by-election to the Dubbak assembly constituency in Telangana, making further inroads into the state. Madhavaneni Raghunandan Rao, the BJP candidate, defeated the Telangana Rashtra Samithi’s Solipeta Sujatha by 1,079 votes. The BJP also edged ahead in vote share, winning 38.47 percent of votes cast to the TRS share of 37.82.
The defeat is a setback for Kalvakuntla Chandrashekhar Rao, the Telangana chief minister, commonly known as KCR. The ruling TRS was confident of retaining Dubbak, as evidenced by statements from senior party members. In the 2018 assembly elections, the TRS candidate, Solipeta Ramalinga Reddy, swept the constituency, situated around 110 kilometers north of Hyderabad, winning with a margin of 62,500 votes over the second placed Congress. His death necessitated a by-election, and the TRS gave his wife the ticket, expecting an easy win in a constituency considered to be a party stronghold. The loss is likely to force the TRS to introspect. It will also strengthen the BJP’s claim that it has begun to replace the Congress as the main opposition party in the state.
“There was an opposition to the TRS and people voted for the party which looked strongest to take on the ruling party,” Muddasani Kodandaram, a retired professor who taught political science at the Osmania University in Hyderabad, told me. “Does it open up space for the BJP? Definitely. The cadre will be happy and will work with dedication. It indicates the decline of the Congress party.”