Telangana election results 2018: TRS secures thumping victory; KCR's populist schemes reaped dividends for party

Hyderabad: Clinching 84 out of the 119 seats, the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) coalition on Tuesday secured a thumping win in the Telangana Assembly elections under the leadership of caretaker Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao who had dissolved the Assembly on 6 September.

Rao is likely to get elected as the legislature party leader in the meeting scheduled for Tuesday evening and is expected to assume office on Wednesday. “Today is not just the victory of TRS party, but the victory of Telangana people. Especially farmers, women, poor people, backward classes, Dalits, tribals, minorities have blessed us with this victory irrespective of caste and religious differences. At this moment, I thank all those who are the reason for this victory” said KCR, talking to the press at Telangana Bhavan.

The party maintained a comfortable lead since the counting of votes began in the morning.

TRS supporters celebrating at the Osmania University. RP Singh/101Reporters

TRS supporters celebrating at the Osmania University. RP Singh/101Reporters

A slew of populist measures, welfare schemes and repeated evocations of Telangana pride delivered KCR the victory his party needed. While the Opposition leaders and political observers were expecting the mahakutami to spoil the calculated TRS move of dissolving the Assembly, Tuesday’s results tell a different story.

“People recognize that the BJP has done nothing in the last five years and are moving towards alternatives. People are with us in our fight against the BJP. These five states' results will help form a strong alternative to the BJP,” TDP leader Chandrababu Naidu told reporters. His party, which contested in 14 constituencies in Telangana, won two seats.

TRS candidate T Harish Rao, who is also KCR’s nephew, won the Siddipet Assembly segment by a huge margin, breaking his 2014 record of more than 90,000 votes. “People clearly know what KCR has done for them and are hopeful about the future under KCR’s rule. People have trusted us and we will work hard to keep that trust. I could not visit all the villages during the campaign but the people have blessed me. Now I will come to all the villages, meet people and party workers and will strive for your development”

However, a major setback for the TRS in this election was the defeat of three of its former ministers – Tummala Nageswara Rao (Paleru constituency), Azmeera Chandulal (Mulugu constituency) and Jupally Krishna Rao (Kollapur constituency). Congress candidate Seethakka alias D Anasuya, a reformed Naxal activist defeated the TRS candidate from Mulugu constituency.

With three seats in their kitty, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which struggled in the four other states that went to polls, also failed to make an impact in Telangana. Despite organising big rallies and public meetings addressed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, party president Amit Shah and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, the party failed to retain the seats won in 2014.

The saffron party had gone to the polls with a mission of winning 60 seats. However, its various measures—including Swami Paripoornananda’s induction into the BJP and his projection as Telangana’s Yogi Adityanath—remained unsuccessful.

The much-hyped pre-poll Mahakutami (grand alliance) between Congress, Telugu Desam Party and Communist Party of India, which had expected favourable results, also failed to make a considerable impact on Tuesday. In a major disappointment to the Congress, the coalition managed to win only 21 seats, as per figures at 5.30 pm.

“If we win, we will take it as a responsibility given by the people. And if TRS wins, we will take it as the people having given us a responsibility to be in the Opposition and fight for them” said Revanth Reddy of Congress.

While Congress and TDP secured 19 and 2 seats respectively, the Telangana Jana Samiti (TJS) and CPI candidates drew a blank in the elections. Despite being founded by a prominent leader of the Telangana movement Prof M Kodandaram, TJS party failed to win any of the four seats it had contested.

The debacle could be attributed to the delay in announcing the list of candidates and sharing of seats with TDP, TJS and CPI. In contrast, the TRS had announced the candidates for 107 constituencies months before the election schedule for the Assembly polls was announced.

Another factor that worked against the grand alliance was confusion among the voters on the candidates as they represented different parties together. Careful ticket distribution of the TRS has worked well to ensure the defeat of senior Congress leaders such as Jana Reddy, Revanth Reddy, DK Aruna, Jeevan Reddy, Mohammed Ali Shabbir, Konda Surekha, Ponnala Lakshminarayana, Komatireddy Venkat Reddy, Nagam Janardhan Reddy (who joined Congress from BJP in April) and others.

Some Congress leaders have resorted to blaming the electronic voting machines (EVMs) for the results. “The colour of the EVMs is pink. It has confused the voters. KCR is known for manipulation. People attended Congress meetings in large numbers,’’ said senior Congress leader V Hanumantha Rao.

A handful of Congress leaders also expressed fear of a post-poll political witch hunt against them. “I am sure that the TRS government will undertake a witch hunt against a few Congress leaders, like Revanth Reddy and myself. I advise the TRS leaders to forget heated exchanges that took place during the election campaign and focus on welfare of the people of Telangana,’’ said Konda Surekha, Congress candidate who lost Parakala constituency to TRS. Surekha had quit TRS to join Congress when she failed to get an assurance over getting a ticket for herself in the Assembly polls.

While a few senior state Congress leaders, like star campaigner Vijaya Shanthi, were not in favour of the alliance with TDP, the party’s state unit went ahead with the decision on the insistence of the Congress high command. The results now indicate that the Congress-TDP alliance instead benefitted TRS leaders — who had routinely attacked the grand alliance during the campaign.
Most of the TRS leaders, including KCR, described the coalition as an unholy alliance and blamed Chandrababu Naidu for the backwardness of Telangana. Utilising the Telangana sentiment against the grand alliance, TRS leaders succeeded in potraying Chandrababu Naidu as the villain who stopped many irrigation projects in the state.

Commenting on the election results, YSR Congress leader V Vijaysai Reddy blamed Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu for the defeat of Congress in Telangana. “Atal Bihari Vajpayee and HD Deve Gowda lost power by having an alliance with Chandrababu Naidu. Now, Congress has lost this election because of its alliance with the TDP,” he said.

Unlike 2014, when the voters in Hyderabad, known as Andhra settlers, elected TDP candidates, the group went for the TRS this time. The shift could be attributed to many reasons including lack of faith towards TDP. Many in the group felt that the TDP abandoned them after shifting the Andhra Pradesh capital to Amaravati.

This is clearly visible even in Kukatpally, where majority of voters are Andhra settlers. The TDP had fielded late Nandamuri Harikrishna’s daughter Suhasini from this constituency. Tollywood actor Nandamuri Balakrishna accompanied her to file nomination papers. However, voters elected TRS candidate Madhavaram Krishnarao to represent them in the legislative Assembly.

(Mahesh Bacham is a Bangalore - based freelance writer and a member of 101Reporters.com)

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Updated Date: Dec 11, 2018 22:35:09 IST

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