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Bishnoi’s son in Adampur, Rajgopal Reddy in Munugode — BJP fields Congress rebels for bypolls

Bhavya Bishnoi is the son of Kuldeep Bishnoi, who was expelled from Congress in June for cross-voting. The BJP hopes that having the Bishnoi family will help clinch the seat. 

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New Delhi: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Saturday announced Haryana’s Congress-turned-BJP leader Kuldeep Bishnoi’s son Bhavya Bishnoi as the party’s candidate for the upcoming Adampur bypolls.

The party also named two other candidates — Komatireddy Reddy Raj Gopal Reddy for the Munugode seat in Telangana and Aman Giri for the Gola Gokarnnath Assembly seat in Uttar Pradesh’s Lakhimpur. While Reddy is a Congress turncoat who jumped ship from the Congress to the BJP in August, Giri is the son of late BJP MLA Arvind Giri, who died last month, necessitating a bypoll in the constituency.

The 29-year-old Bhavya Bishnoi is the grandson of the late Bhajan Lal, the former chief minister of Haryana. He had unsuccessfully contested the 2019 general elections from  Hisar, which he lost to BJP’s Brijendra Singh. Adampur, which is long considered a stronghold of the Bishnoi family, comes under the same parliamentary constituency.   

Bhavya’s father Kuldeep was expelled from the Congress in June for cross-voting in favour of the  Bharatiya Janata Party in Rajya Sabha polls. That was the second time he was ousted from Congress for breaching the party line, having been expelled before in 2007

The Bishnois — Kuldeep, his two-time MLA wife Renuka, and Bhavya — joined the BJP on 4 August. 

 A day before joining the BJP, Kuldeep declared that the people of his constituency wanted his son Bhavya to contest from Adampur  — an assembly seat had held until then — as a BJP nominee.

Reddy was a sitting MLA from Munugode who also joined the BJP from the Congress in August.  

For Kuldeep, the Adampur bypoll is crucial — not only has his family been representing the seat since 1968, but it will also be Kuldeep’s chance to prove his standing before the BJP. 

Kuldeep’s father Bhajan Lal had won the seat from 1968 to 2000, while Bishnoi won it in 2005, 2009, 2014, and 2019; and his wife Renuka won the seat in the 2012 bypoll. 

“The elections are crucial as Bishnoi needs to prove his mettle to the BJP. He has been making statements that the people of the area want his son to contest from the seat so now is the time for him to prove it,” said a senior BJP leader. For the BJP, winning Adampur, a seat that has been with the Congress, is important

“Bishnoi had defeated BJP’s Sonali Phogat by about 29,000 votes and before that also it had remained with the Congress. The BJP is hoping to win the seat this time with the Bishnoi family contesting from here,” said a senior BJP leader. 

Meanwhile, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has announced Satender Singh, a BJP turncoat, for the seat. Singh was earlier associated with the Congress. 

The Election Commission of India Monday announced bypolls in seven constituencies, including Andheri East (Maharashtra), Mokama (Bihar), Gopalganj (Bihar), Adampur (Haryana), Munugode (Telangana), Gola Gokrannath (Uttar Pradesh) and Dhamnagar (Odisha). Elections will be held on 3 November and votes will be counted on 6 November.  

Also read: 3 states, thrice the trouble: Why Congress struggles won’t end in Punjab, Haryana & Rajasthan

In Munugode, a high-stakes battle between TRS and BJP

Another high-pitched battle will be the bypoll in Munugode — a seat in  Telangana’s Nalgonda district, where the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi is engaged in a ferocious fight against the BJP. 

The bypoll was necessitated after then-sitting Congress Legislative member Komatireddy Raj Gopal Reddy resigned from the post and also quit the party, expressing his displeasure at having to work under then newly-appointed Congress Chief Revanth Reddy, a leader who had joined the Congress from the Telugu Desam Party in 2017.

Raj Gopal Reddy called Revanth Reddy “an outsider” and alleged that he was not consulted over the appointment.

The MLA was referring to Revanth Reddy’s appointment as Telangana Congress’s chief in 2021. Revanth Reddy jumped to Congress from Telugu Desam Party in 2017. 

When he joined the BJP in August, Raj Gopal Reddy claimed his move was aimed at fighting the ruling party Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS, now renamed Bharat Rashtra Samithi, or BRS, subject to Election Commission’s approval).

His decision to quit the party came as no surprise — he has been speaking out publicly about what he claims are problems plaguing the party, such as internal management problems, a lack of coordination between the Congress high command and the state’s leaders, and poor functioning.

Raj Gopal Reddy’s brother Komatireddy Venkat Reddy is a Congress MP.

Munugode is the fifth by-election that Telangana is seeing since Chief Minister K.Chandrasekhar Rao or KCR, was sworn in for a second term in 2018.  The BJP has won two of the four assembly bypolls and the TRS has won the rest.

Both parties have been going all out for the Munugode seat — which is being seen widely as a semi-final before next year’s assembly elections. The Congress meanwhile has been pushed to third position in the battle. 

The BJP has been expanding in the southern state — the party, which managed to win only one assembly seat in the 2018 polls, now has three MLAs. It also went from having a single MP in Telangana to winning four seats in the 2019 general elections.

The party’s growing footprint in Telangana has become a cause for worry for the ruling TRS and Chief Minister KCR. 

BJP leaders and its candidate Reddy have already started campaigning in the constituency. They are also conducting bike rallies and door-to-door campaigns to reach out to voters, and are even getting the party’s central leaders for public meetings.  

For instance, a public meeting at which Raj Gopal Reddy joined the BJP in August saw Union Home Minister Amit Shah campaign for Reddy. 

TRS has pitted Kusukuntla Prabhakar Reddy as its candidate for the Munugode seat. Kusukuntla Prabhakar Reddy had won the seat in 2014 but lost it to Raj Gopal Reddy in the last assembly election in 2018.

The ruling party accuses Raj Gopal Reddy of having joined the BJP in exchange for Rs 18,000 crore-worth of mining contracts that his company Sushee Infra bagged.

The Congress, meanwhile, has fielded Palvai Sravanthi Reddy, daughter of late Congress veteran Palvai Govardhan Reddy, as its candidate. Her father was a five-time MLA from Munugode and a Rajya Sabha Member of Parliament. 

(Edited by Uttara Ramaswamy)

Also Read:  ‘TRS in Telangana, BRS elsewhere?’ KCR wants to go national, but his party leaders not in the loop    


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