Friday, July 12, 2024

After Karnataka, Congress strategist Sunil Kanugolu delivers Telangana for party

After its emphatic win in Karnataka, Congress strategist Sunil Kanugolu has again proved his mettle by ensuring the party’s first-ever victory in Telangana after its formation 10 years ago, fulfilling the dreams of Congress Parliamentary Party Chairperson Sonia Gandhi of coming to power in the southern state.

Before coming to the Congress, Kanugolu had held multiple round of meetings with Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao’s Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) party to look at its campaigning, but then, surprised everyone by joining the Congress and was soon made the chairman of the Election Strategy Committee.

However, he was unable to deliver in Madhya Pradesh, where the stakes for the party were high.

Kanugolu was brought into Congress fold in May last year and since then he has worked as a strategist for the party and was responsible for preparing surveys, campaigning, deciding candidates, and winning strategy in Telangana, and his work played a crucial role.

Despite multiple people suggesting that it is not easy to win Telangana as compared to Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, a party source said that Kanugolu made Rahul Gandhi to agree for an aggressive campaign in Telangana.

It was the result of this strategy by Kanugolu that party President Mallikarjun Kharge, Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra jointly addressed 65 public meeting and road shows in the state since August 25.

Rahul Gandhi all alone addressed 26 public meetings and roadshows in the state, which were designed by him. Even July, Kanugolu, along with Telangana leaders, organised a mega public meeting in Telangana’s Khammam.

He also suggested holding the Congress Working Committee (CWC), the party’s highest decision-making body meeting in Hyderabad from September 15 to 16 and a joint public meeting where Sonia Gandhi announced six guarantees for the people.

According to party leaders, Kanugolu, who stays mostly behind the scenes, prepared the strategy for each Assembly seat in the southern state. His strategy was to corner the ruling BRS, the BJP, and the AIMIM so that Telangana’s contest does not become triangular and this worked in favour of the party.

He was also responsible for making the party leadership to agree for the Congress guarantees in the state.

Ahead of the polls, Kanugolu’s team also branded the BRS as having an alliance with the BJP, as it had worked in Karnataka, where the party had branded the JD-S as the ‘B’ team of the saffron party. He and his team continuously gave support to all the candidates with facts to counter the charges of the other parties.

According to party leaders, Kanugolu was responsible for Congress campaigns against the BRS and highlighting the alleged corruption in the Medigadda barrage project, one of the ambitious project of the government.

He also played a key role in persuading Y.S. Sharmila, daughter of late Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister and veteran Congress leader Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy, not to enter the polls and support the Congress.

The arrest of TDP chief N Chandrababu Naidu, and the party’s decision to not contest in elections also helped him to play his moves against the BRS.

Even when the police had raided the Telangana Congress war room run by Kanugolu for allegedly making defamatory comments about K. Chandrasekhar Rao and posting them on social media platforms in March, he continued his work.

Kanugolu, who had earlier worked with Prime Minister Narendra Modi as part of the BJP’s campaign, had also worked with election strategist Prashant Kishor in 2014 before parting ways.

He had worked for the BJP in Uttar Pradesh and is said to have played a key role in its victory in 2017.

Following the victory in Karnataka, the Congress had tasked Kanugolu for Madhya Pradesh, where the party won the 2018 Assembly polls but lost power in 2020 after rebellion by Jyotiraditya Scindia, a close confidante of Rahul Gandhi.

However, he and his team were not able to deliver, citing no proper cooperation from the state leadership and not taking feedback on the ticket distribution, which is being said to be the main reason for the party’s loss in the HIndi heartland.

Kanugolu was also responsible for supporting Bharat Jodo Yatra-led by Rahul Gandhi, which began from Tamil Nadu’s Kanyakumari on September 7 last year.

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