Rama Krishna Sangem
The Congress Party which dared to form Telangana by bifurcating combined Andhra Pradesh a decade ago finally got its reward. The party came to power in this newest state by winning 65 (including its ally, CPI’s one) seats out of the total 119 in November 30 assembly elections. After Karnataka, this is the second state for the party to win in the run up to the coming general elections to Lok Sabha.
This is a big electoral relief of sorts for Congress which lost two of its states – Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan – in the latest round of five state assembly elections. Now, Congress on its own has three states – along with Himachal Pradesh. The previous ruling party, BRS supremo and then CM KCR who dreamt of a hat-trick win lost power, with a reduced tally of just 39 MLAs.
BJP which aspired – first to win and then at least to become a king maker with at least 30 seats – had to put up with just 8 seats. But, the party is more than satisfied with its performance as it stood second in 19 other seats. Now the real test of the party is to win a majority of MP seats, improving from its 2019 tally of 4, out of the total 17 Lok Sabha seats.
This spectacular victory of Congress was led by Pradesh Congress Committee president Anumula Revanth Reddy. Monitored from the party high command in Delhi, Revanth along with a team of leaders including Congress legislature party leader Mallu Bhatti Vikramarka and other seniors like Komatireddy Venkat Reddy, Uttam Kumar Reddy and others have put up a united fight for the win.
Congress scored 41 per cent of popular votes while BRS lagged behind by just less than 2 per cent votes. Still Congress secured full majority, avoiding a hung assembly, as feared by some poll analysts. What shocked BRS is the defeat of KCR in Kamareddy, his second seat. The loss of Telangana have also dashed off KCR’s hopes to play a role at the national level by winning more MPs.
How Congress got this victory?
Congress after spending in wilderness for about nine and a half years has managed to come back to power in Telangana, in a remarkable way. Till about a year ago, 2023 May, not many believed that Congress would be a formidable force to unseat KCR from power. Though the party has some minimum base in every village, the party has a wobbly journey for the last few years.
It lost most by-elections and was unable to put up even a decent fight and lost deposits in some by-polls. Till BJP lost Munugode assembly by-election in November 2022, Congress was almost out of the first two slots of race in Telangana. However, after the Munugode loss, BJP suddenly lost its steam and this helped Congress regain momentum.
Congress win in Karnataka assembly elections have given the party a turning point in Telangana. Till then undecided over their political future like Khammam strongmen Ponguleti Srinivas Reddy and Tummala Nageswara Rao and other seniors like former minister Jupally Krishna Rao, and others then made up their mind and joined Congress.
Congress high command too played an active role and adopted criteria of winnability in selection of candidates. Winning capacity came first and loyalty and other considerations came later. Social justice and other weightages too were followed but getting as many seas as possible was the main goal of the party.
In fact there was some latent discontent among the public over BRS government for some time. Meltdown of BJP before the polls came as a boon to Congress, which replaced as the principal opposition party that can challenge KCR. This anti-government sentiment was clear right from September onwards. It got further crystalized as the Election Day neared.
Six guarantees clicked with people
Congress party has carefully crafted a campaign strategy in Telangana. After its five guarantees worked well in Karnataka, the party added one more and came up with six guarantees here. They are simple and updated versions of BRS’ existing welfare schemes. Though KCR too brought up many welfare schemes, Congress got an upper hand, mainly for two reasons.
One, the BRS schemes implementation was mired in corruption. Most MLAs and other local leaders demanded bribes from the beneficiaries for sanctioning the amounts. Two, the general perception of BRS leaders cut off from public negated whatever the edge these schemes had. For example, people have seen, how schemes like Dalit Bandhu have failed to create a big impact in villages.
Thanks giving to Sonia
Another factor which helped Congress win is a wave of sympathy towards that party which formed Telangana in 2014. Congress asked for votes in both 2014 and ‘18 as the party which “granted Telangana and brought Telangana”. But, people have ignored that slogan. But for the third time, they wanted to give Congress a chance.
Now the real test of the Revanth-Bhatti government is to walk its talk – of implementing Praja Palana (People’s governance) – in Telangana. We all know, Congress is a national party with many power centers and pulls and pressures. That may be a weakness to the party but that also the strength to the party – more democracy, more freedom and more participation by all.
Coming LS elections, implementing the Six guarantees, completing all ongoing projects and distribution of nominated posts to all those who worked for the party in the last decade are the challenges before CM Revanth and his team.