TRS reignites Telangana Fire, wins 88 seats
The pre-poll alliance between the Congress and the TDP failed to make any impact as both parties have traditionally been foes and are ideologically at odds.
The victory was of the TRS government’s people-centric schemes and reignited regional sentiments against the purported threat of shelving of welfare programmes and projects if the party failed to retain power.
The TRS won 87 of the 119 assembly seats in Telangana, the nation’s youngest state, compared with 63 in 2014. Most exit polls had predicted its return to power, but with a much smaller margin.
The elections were held nearly six months before schedule, after TRS president and chief minister Rao decided to dissolve the assembly on September 6, about nine months before completing the five-year tenure.
The Congress, which formed a pre-poll alliance with the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) and two others, ended up with 19 seats, down from 21 in 2014, while the TDP won two seats as against 15 last time. The other two partners, CPI and Telangana Jana Sena, couldn’t open their account. The BJP, which has contested from all the 119 constituencies and deployed large resources and lined up its top brass from Prime Minister Narendra Modi and party president Amit Shah to chief ministers of BJP ruled states and union ministers, suffered badly by settling for just one seat, down from five in 2014.
As against this, the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM), headed by Asaduddin Owaisi, retained its seven seats.
BACK TO BASICS
The result proves the burning issue in the state remains Telangana. Riding on regional passions and the theme of welfare schemes, TRS wins by a landslide. The state of 2.8 crore voters saw a turnout of 73.2%
Telangana Congress president N Uttam Kumar Reddy, meanwhile, said he suspected tampering of electronic voting machines and demanded the Election Commission to count the VVPAT slips. He asked all Congress candidates to submit letters to the returning officers concerned seeking counting of paper trails. “We strongly suspect that the Election Commission has colluded with the ruling dispensation right from deletion of lakhs of votes to tampering of EVMs. Our doubts are only rising as the Election Commission is refusing to count the VVPAT slips,” said Reddy.
Analysts said the experiment of the Congress teaming up with the TDP, which rules neighbouring Andhra Pradesh, boomeranged on the party, as it immensely helped the ruling TRS to reignite regional sentiments once again to overcome anti-incumbency.
“The opposition (only) had an initial opportunity to consolidate the votes of disgruntled sections of the society from students to unemployed youth and tenant farmers to non-beneficiaries of welfare schemes,” but it squandered it, said political analyst Telakapalli Ravi.
TRS president K Chandrashekar Rao was Business Reformer of the Year at ET Awards 2018.
“It was the entry of Telugu Desam Party president and Andhra Pradesh chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu, joining the Congress-led People’s Front, which has changed the political equations swiftly,” said political analyst Machala Srinivasa Rao. “The ruling TRS, which was already banking on the large loyalist base comprising welfare scheme beneficiaries and Muslim minority votes, got a wonderful opportunity in the form of Chandrababu Naidu to reignite the native sentiments among the Telangana people against the supremacy of Andhra leadership. Portraying the threat that the welfare schemes and projects will get shelved if the People’s Front guided by Andhra leadership was elected, the ruling dispensation could successfully turn the anti-incumbency votes in its favour.”
The poll outcome also offered minor embarrassments to the ruling party as four of its senior ministers and the speaker of the dissolved assembly lost. Several Congress bigwigs also had to bite the dust. Interestingly, the opposition alliance withstood the sweep of ruling TRS in pockets like Khammam district, where TRS could get only two out of 10 seats.
Ministers Tummala Nageswar Rao, Jupalli Krishna Rao, Ajmeera Chandulal and Patnam Mahender Reddy, and speaker S Madhusudhana Chary were among the top leaders of TRS to lose.
TRS president KCR attributed their defeat to infightings in the party and mistakes committed by the candidates and party workers in the region, which couldn’t be rectified in time.
The three key members of the KCR family won with decisive majority: irrigation minister T Harish Rao (KCR’s nephew) won with a record majority of more than 1.2 lakh votes, while industries minister KT Rama Rao (KCR’s son) got a margin of over 63,000 votes against his nearest rival. KCR himself won with an over 33,000-vote margin.
Heavyweights of the Congress who lost included A Revanth Reddy, K Jana Reddy, Komatireddy Venkat Reddy, Geetha Reddy, DK Aruna, Vamshi Chand Reddy, Ponnam Prabhakar and Sampath Kumar.
Telangana went to polls on December 7. Of the 2.8 crore electorate, 73.2% cast their votes.