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Forum For Good Governance seeks inquiry into Munugode bypoll

Hyderabad: The Forum For Good Governance (FFCG) on Thursday wrote to the Election Commission seeking an inquiry into the just concluded Munugode by-poll. FFGG secretary M Padmanabh Reddy, in a letter to the Chief Electoral Officer, Telangana, stating that cases should be booked against voters who sought money for their votes. He claimed that both the ruling TRS and BJP spend Rs 627 crores.

“In a year or so there will be Assembly elections and Munugode should not be a Trend Setter,” said the letter from Padmanabh Reddy to the Telangana CEO. He added that on November 3, polling day, voters sought money from both the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), and took as much as Rs 9000 per person.

Stating that “liquor was flooding the roads of Munugode and currency notes were falling like hail storm” in the run-up to the Munugode by-poll, the Forum For Good Governance member alleged that the Election Commission’s Returning Officer at Munugode and other observers “closed their eyes”.

“There is enough evidence to show in TV channels how people demanded money and the political parties obliged. In some villages the people were sitting on road with placards stating that ‘No Money No Vote’ up to 2 p.m., up to 2 p.m. no polling took place. Ultimately when their demand for money is met from political parties the polling started around 3 p.m. and went on to 11 p.m. in the night,” Reddy stated about the Munugode by-poll.

The Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) won the heated-up Munugode contest after counting got completed in 15 rounds on November 6 The TRS won beat the BJP by over 10,000 votes, while the Congress secured only 23864 votes at the end of counting. The by-election was necessitated after ex-Congress MLA Komatireddy Rajagopal Reddy quit and joined the BJP recently.

The by-poll is seen by many political pundits as a semi-final for the 2023 Telangana elections, slated to be held around November. A week before the by-poll, the Cyberabad police arrested three BJP ‘agents’ for allegedly trying to poach four TRS MLAs. All three of them were taken into custody and the state government on November 9 formed a special investigation team to probe the matter.

After the incident came to light, it was found that TRS Tandur MLA Pilot Rohit Reddy had lodged a complaint with the Cyberabad police alleging that BJP ‘agents’ approached him. The legislator claimed that he was offered Rs 100 crore and offered other posts by the BJP, but was also threatened with cases by the ED and CBI if he failed to defect.