The Munugode by-election is a barometer for the 2024 polls in Telangana. Tied in a three-way battle with the Congress and the BJP, it is prestigious for the ruling TRS of KCR. The BJP is fighting tooth and nail with KCR, drawing him out in a personal battle over his daughter they call ‘Liquor Rani’, to come up at least a close second to trigger a series of defections before the big event two years hence. The battle used to be between the Congress and the TDP in the constituency for decades before Telangana was formed and TRS came into the picture. But the Congress got so busy with the Bharat Jodo Yatra of its prince that it brought campaigning to a halt to go to the neighbouring district when barely days remained for the poll on November 3 (result on Nov 6). The BJP, already engaged in a large but shady campaign of wooing TRS MLAs over with inducements, is hoping to seriously challenge the TRS in Telangana in the coming Assembly elections. Surveys indicate a huge anti-incumbency building against TRS and KCR in India’s youngest state and BJP is aiming to not only take Telangana but also try to boost its tally of MPs from a non-BJP state in the south in 2024. It appears the Congress has willingly put itself in a third position where it should have been battling for a comeback.