Congress’ Strategist Sunil Kanugolu Leads Party’s Turnaround in Telangana
New Delhi: Sunil Kanugolu, the poll strategist, has once again showcased his Midas touch by orchestrating the Congress’ remarkable comeback in Telangana. Earlier, he played a crucial role in the party’s return to power in Karnataka. Kanugolu was widely acknowledged for his contribution to the Congress’ victory in Karnataka and was subsequently granted Cabinet rank in the Siddaramaiah government.
This time, Kanugolu, along with PCC chief A Revanth Reddy, formed a formidable duo in devising the Congress’ strategy to dismantle the BRS government led by K Chandrashekhar Rao, which was aiming for a third term in the southern state. The Congress secured 64 seats out of the 119-member Telangana assembly, while suffering significant defeats in the Hindi heartland states of Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, and Rajasthan.
Kanugolu also made efforts in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh upon the directive of the party’s central leadership. However, regional leaders Ashok Gehlot and Kamal Nath reportedly did not align with the strategist. Before the Rajasthan elections, Kanugolu assessed the potential candidates’ winnability, but Gehlot disagreed with his suggestions and brought in Naresh Arora’s Designboxed to shape the Congress government’s narrative for the assembly polls.
Sources reveal that Kanugolu’s success in Karnataka and Telangana can be attributed to the freedom and autonomy given to him and his team to work. The Congress’ campaigns in both states focused on exposing the alleged corruption of the ruling party and promised welfare guarantees, which resonated with the public.
Interestingly, Kanugolu has previously been involved in several BJP poll campaigns. In 2018, he worked with the BJP in Karnataka, helping the party become the single largest party with 104 seats. He also contributed to Narendra Modi’s campaign in 2014, as well as the party’s political campaigns in Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat.
Before joining the Congress last year, Kanugolu worked closely with DMK chief MK Stalin and oversaw the party’s successful ‘Namakku Naame’ (we are for ourselves) campaign during the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. In 2021, he collaborated with AIADMK against the DMK and led the party to win 75 seats in the Tamil Nadu assembly elections. Additionally, Kanugolu played a crucial role in strategizing Rahul Gandhi’s nationwide ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’ from Kanyakumari to Kashmir last year.
Given his track record of delivering victories in Karnataka and Telangana, Kanugolu is expected to be entrusted with more responsibilities by the Congress in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.