Sunil Kanugolu's Midas touch: From Karnataka to Telangana, Congress' secret weapon | Mint
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Business News/ Elections / Assembly Elections/  Sunil Kanugolu's Midas touch: From Karnataka to Telangana, Congress' secret weapon

Sunil Kanugolu's Midas touch: From Karnataka to Telangana, Congress' secret weapon

Congress secures a win in Telangana while losing power in Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh. Poll strategist Sunil Kanugolu, who played a key role in Congress' victory in Karnataka, is credited with the party's success in Telangana as well.

Congress Political strategist Sunil Kanugolu (right) and party leaders during a Congress committee meeting (PTI)Premium
Congress Political strategist Sunil Kanugolu (right) and party leaders during a Congress committee meeting (PTI)

Congress managed to secure a win in only one state on Sunday's Assembly polls counting- Telangana. The Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) wrested power from the grand old party in Rajasthan, and Chhattisgarh. Madhya Pradesh voted the Shivraj Singh Chouhan-led saffron party back to power. 

Congress winning Telangana, wresting power from K Chandrasekhar Rao-led Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS), was seen as a clear divide between northern and southern states, as the Hindi heartland was swept by BJKP, while southern states of India preferred regional parties or Congress. 

However, like Karnataka, the Telangana win was brought to Congress by poll strategist Sunil Kanugolu!

ALSO READ: Telangana Election Results 2023 LIVE

A familiar name, and a mysterious man, Kanugolu has peaked interest of several after Congress' Karnataka Assembly Election win, earlier this year. 

With no public presence, Kanugolu has yet again proven to be the man with the Midas touch, plotting the Congress' amazing turnaround in Telangana

Kanugolu was largely credited for shaping the Congress' win in Karnataka and was later accorded Cabinet rank in the Siddaramaiah government.

This time, Kanugolu along with PCC chief A Revanth Reddy formed a formidable pair to chalk out the Congress' strategy to pull down the K Chandrashekhar Rao-led BRS government that was eying a third term in the southern state.

Kanugolu had also made forays in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh following a directive from the party's central leadership but regional satraps Ashok Gehlot and Kamal Nath reportedly were not on the same page as the poll strategist.

ALSO READ: Assembly Election Results 2023 LIVE Updates

Ahead of the Rajasthan elections, Kanugolu had made an assessment about the winnability of probable candidates but Gehlot reportedly did not agree to his suggestions and brought in Naresh Arora's Designboxed to construct the Congress government's narrative in the run-up to the assembly polls.

PTI reports that the success of Kanugolu in Karnataka and Telangana was the result of the free hand given to him and allowing his team to work freely.

Kanugolu, who hails from Karnataka and is in his early 40s, has been considered largely as the brain behind the Congress' narrative in Karnataka with the 'PayCM' campaign against the BJP. 

In the run-up to the polls in Telangana, he highlighted the alleged corruption of the K Chandrashekhar Rao dispensation as part of Congress' campaign that seemed to have struck a chord with the people.

The campaigns run by the Congress in Karnataka and Telangana have been very similar as both highlighted the alleged graft of the ruling dispensation and projected welfare guarantees that seemed to have struck an instant connection with the public.

Interestingly, Kanugolu has also been involved in several BJP poll campaigns in the past. In 2018, he worked with the BJP in Karnataka and the party managed to become the single largest party with 104 seats. He had also worked on Narendra Modi's campaign in 2014.

Kanugolu, a former consultant with McKinsey, was also associated with DMK chief MK Stalin and oversaw the party's 'Namakku Naame' (we are for ourselves) campaign during the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. In 2021, he also worked with AIADMK against the DMK and led the party to win 75 seats in the Tamil Nadu assembly elections.

Kanugolu had joined the Congress last year and worked closely with the Karnataka campaign. He is also credited with strategising Rahul Gandhi's cross-country 'Bharat Jodo Yatra' from Kanyakumari to Kashmir last year.

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Published: 03 Dec 2023, 08:19 PM IST
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