BJP’s KCR, Revanth Reddy Giant-Killer

New Delhi: The headline moment from Sunday’s Telangana election was the Congress easing to a win over outgoing Chief

BJP’s KCR, Revanth Reddy Giant-Killer

New Delhi:

The headline moment from Sunday’s Telangana election was the Congress easing to a win over outgoing Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao’s Bharat Rashtra Samithi. But dig a little deeper and there is a remarkable story – an unknown local BJP leader at the centre of a double giant-killing feat.

Meet Katipally Venkata Ramana Reddy – the businessman-politician who beat the BRS’ K Chandrasekhar Rao, the departing Chief Minister, and his successor, the Congress’ Revanth Reddy.

Now arguably the BJP’s most prominent local face, he secured over 66,000 votes to defeat Mr Rao, and dump the Congress’ state unit boss to third. There were nearly 12,000 votes between the three.

READ | Meet Ramana Reddy, Who Beat Both A Chief Minister And Chief Minister Probable

The unassuming Mr Reddy spoke to NDTV Monday and played down the significance of the win. “I am no star… no superstar. I just got caught in ‘Star Wars’,” he said with a grin, referring to his rivals, one hailed as the ‘father of Telangana’ and the other as the architect of the Congress’ unlikely win.

READ | Routed In Telangana, But BJP’s Sting In Tail – Defeats For Revanth Reddy, KCR

Did he think this win was ever a possibility? Well, yes, and he told NDTV as such. “I did think this could happen. In fact, I told NDTV before the election. I said ‘I am confident and will defeat both…”

“Both are great leaders… one is a former Chief Minister, the other an incoming Chief Minister. There is no difference between them. In fact, we were close in terms of votes… only 12,000 between us.”

A cheerful Mr Reddy then snuck in what seemed a veiled jab at his rivals. “I thank them for this chance… I would never have gotten here. What is special about me? I would have been just one of 119 MLAs. NDTV would not be interested in me if they had not contested from Kamareddy.”

Mr Reddy made similar comments late Sunday, hours after his stunning victory was confirmed.

“I took both as normal candidates. The people supported me a lot and this is why I won… I want to say I am not just the MLA of 65,000 voters… but I am the MLA of four lakh people…”

READ | From Third Front Dreams To Crash In Telangana, KCR’s Huge Reversal

Mr Reddy’s win doesn’t change the fact this was a poor election for the BJP, which had hoped for a strong showing to kick-start its “Mission South” campaign ahead of next year’s Lok Sabha election.

But all is not doom and gloom, the new Kamareddy MLA said, explaining that the picture in Telangana could have been different but for “bad luck”. “BJP vote-share was 6.8 per cent in 2018. Now it is around 14 per cent. We could have formed the government if we also got anti-incumbency vote. These votes went to the Congress, which had its ‘guarantee’ schemes. This was a problem.”

“For the last five years we have been working for the public… working to strengthen the cadre and spread awareness about the corrupt BRS government. We had 20-25 seats as our target but we lost some seats… in five or six the margins were very low (and) that was bad luck.”

Mr Reddy also played down talk that yet another defeat in a southern state – traditionally tough nuts for the BJP to crack – was the result of a change in state leadership just months before the polls.

Union Minister G Kishan Reddy was appointed the BJP’s state chief in July.

The BJP’s Telangana star also played down the size of the Congress’ win, declaring, “Congress winning 60+ seats is normal… not a landslide. State did not vote overwhelmingly for them.”

READ | “Won 8 Seats, Doubled Vote Share”: BJP’s Telangana Show Praised

The Congress won 64 seats in Sunday’s election, well below the 88 won by the BRS in the 2018 election and on par with the 63 it claimed in 2014, the year of the state’s formation.

The BJP finished with eight – one more than Asaduddin Owaisi’s AIMIM.

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