KCR succeeds where Chandrababu Naidu failed
Naidu, who is known for his ruthless political instinct, this time failed to assess the hostility against him by a sizeable Telangana population.
About a decade-and-a-half ago, KCR’s former colleague and Telugu Desam Party supremo N Chandrababu Naidu, now chief minister of truncated Andhra Pradesh, had also dissolved the assembly early.
However, KCR succeeded where Naidu failed. While KCR’s bet paid rich dividends, Naidu failed to overcome anti-incumbency back then even after surviving an assassination bid by Maoists in October 2003.
The KCR-led TRS swept the polls to record a landslide victory on Tuesday, winning over two-thirds of the 119 seats and improving its tally from 63 in 2014, immediately after the formation of Telangana.
“Failure to judge the anti-incumbency and overestimating the sympathy wave from an assassination bid on him had forced Naidu to stay away from power for 10 long years in united Andhra Pradesh,” political analyst Manchala Srinivasa Rao said. “As against this, KCR not only assessed the large loyalist base of welfare scheme beneficiaries running to over a crore, but also banked on the votes of Muslim minorities, who account for over 12% of Telangana’s population.”
Naidu, who is known for his ruthless political instinct, this time failed to assess the hostility against him by a sizeable Telangana population, said political analyst Telakapalli Ravi.
“This negative perception had largely emanated from the longstanding stance that TDP took on statehood to Telangana,” Ravi said. “KCR, widely known as a hard-hitting orator for decades, was successful in conveying most political messages in non-political language and local idiom, while Naidu failed to connect with the masses at large.”
According to Ravi, another reason for Naidu’s failure was his inability back in 2004 to gauge the dynamics of scheduling assembly elections with general elections.
“KCR assessed it well that scheduling the assembly elections with Lok Sabha in 2019 may be counterproductive as it could largely emerge as a fight between the BJP’s Narendra Modi and Congress’ Rahul Gandhi at the national level and may help the Congress in Telangana to gain in the process,” said Srinivasa Rao. “Riding on the feel-good factor, KCR preferred to delink the assembly polls from the general elections.”
Analysts said Naidu’s active campaigning proved to be counterproductive.
“Here, KCR swiftly shifted gears and focussed his efforts on arousing regional sentiments among the native Telangana voters quite effectively to highlight the likely threat of welfare and development projects being shelved if the Congress-led People’s Front at the guidance of Naidu came to power,” said Rao.
KCR succeeded in portraying Naidu as a villain who would stall Telangana’s irrigation projects, a perception that the Andhra CM was unable to overcome with denials.
“Instead of becoming an asset to the Congress-led People’s Front, Naidu ended up as a liability and helped his rival KCR to overcome anti-incumbency,” said Rao.