Despite the humongous efforts of the Congress to get on the high table in the state of Telangana, the wily Chief Minister has clearly upped the ante on his rivals, the Congress and his formidable rival Naidu, reducing them to whimpering political dwarfs in the state
K Chandrashekhar Rao, the first Chief Minister of Telangana has returned to power with an overwhelming majority, winning 88 of the 119 seats in the assembly. The Congress, which dreamt of returning to power in India’s newest state, came a distant second with just 19 seats.
Factors that helped KCR
KCR had dissolved the Assembly in September this year, many months before the term was supposed to end, hoping to avoid any clash with Lok Sabha elections and fight only on local issues. The crux of his campaign reflected his tenure of 4+ years which witnessed relentless Muslim appeasement, dole outs, Telangana pride and anti-Naidu rhetoric. It can be recalled that KCR had promised Muslim only industrial corridor while in power and also increasing quota for Muslims to 12 per cent in the manifesto. Though the Raita Bandhu (Farmers Friend) scheme to invest in farmlands was popular, its efficacy is debatable. His housing scheme did not reach its target but promised to grant up to 6 lakh rupees to the poor to construct houses.
During the campaign, KCR had repeatedly targeted Naidu and accused him of having stalled the development of Telangana and calling him an outsider. 'Telangana pride' was raked up in all of his speeches and portrayed himself as the liberator of the state from the subjugation of Andhra. Though his stance against Andhra created animosity between the people of the two states, it reaped rich dividends for KCR. The December 11 results have only reaffirmed parochial politics to camouflage issues facing the citizens. Though KCR claims to be a farmer, his assets rose by 41 per cent over the last four years as declared in his affidavit to the election commission.
‘Mahakutami’ gamble fails
Harbouring national ambitions to counter Modi and KCR, Naidu had worked towards creating an alliance with Congress and Left Parties led by TDP for the Telangana Polls. He hoped that a win would catapult him as a coalition leader and as a prominent leader at the national level. Moreover, he had the pressure to prove his acrimonious exit from the NDA by countering Modi. This gamble failed, and the coalition won all 21 seats (TDP 2 and Congress 19).
Naidu’s campaign which had targeted KCR and Modi was aimed at the minorities and those voters who were disgruntled with KCR. However, his falling image in Andhra and charges of corruption raked up by KCR did not help his campaign. The Muslims who seemed to be firmly behind KCR did not fall for Naidu’s promises. The SC/STs too have overwhelmingly voted for the TRS and Naidu’s plan to target these communities using his schemes in Andhra failed to enthuse them. With Naidu’s Amaravathi dream and infrastructure projects coming to a cropper in Andhra, the urban voters too took no liking for him. In all likelihood, Naidu’s gamble to become a national leader would have to wait and would augur well for him to work towards safeguarding his bastions in Andhra.
BJP’s lone crusader
The victory of Raja Singh Lodh from Goshamahal Assembly constituency in Hyderabad is one reason to cheer for the BJP. Hindus had rallied to his support to counter the blatant communal polarisation by the Owaisi brothers in Hyderabad. Rallies and utsavs organised by Raja Singh, always get great support from Hindus across the city. Hanuman Jayanti and Ganapati utsavs in Hyderabad have become more prominent each year with lakhs of devotees taking part in the festivities and processions.
Known not to hide his Hindu credentials, Raja Singh is seen as a leader who can counter Owaisi’s clout in the old city. His support to the campaign for Bhagyalakshmi temple next to Charminar was noted well by the Hindus of the city who have rewarded by re-electing him.