Communal polarisation coupled with seething anger against the government impact TRS prospects
The ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi failed to hit a century which it hoped to achieve. But the party managed to secure 55 divisions, a number which is well short of the magic figure of 75 in the 150 strong civic body.
The Bharatiya Janata Party continued its surge in the GHMC polls proving that its recent win in Dubbak by-election is not a fluke. The victory just short of 50 seats, one-third strength, has come as a double bonanza for the party, which is still celebrating its Dubbak victory. The win will be cherished by the saffron party as it has improved it’s performance manifold as compared to the four seats it won in the previous GHMC polls in 2016.
Wake up call
As the final figures of the poll performance emerge, the results should become a wake up call for the ruling party, which conceded as many as 44 seats, little less than half of its 2016 strength to rival parties, the BJP in particular. The results came as a booster dose for the BJP (48 seats) which set its eyes on becoming a major player in Telangana by the Assembly elections in 2023.
An analysis of the party-wise performance shows a variety of reasons for this outcome. Firstly, the less than two-week campaign period saw the BJP triggering nationalistic fervour and launching a no-holds-barred attack on the TRS-MIM combine.
The ‘unholy nexus’, as the BJP leaders termed the unofficial understanding between the two parties, was played to the hilt by State BJP chief Bandi Sanjay, who almost single handedly brought down to the ground the father-son duo of Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao and Municipal Administration Minister K.T. Rama Rao.
Communal polarisation coupled with seething anger against the government for its alleged failure to come to the rescue of the people during the recent unprecedented floods in the city and criticism over the manner in which flood relief was distributed in select areas impacted the prospects of the TRS. The BJP successfully attracted the voters with its aggressive campaign style and played with élan the communal card, which was ably backed by the high profile visits of national leaders, including Home Minister Amit Shah, national BJP chief J.P. Nadda and others.
Land Regularisation Scheme (LRS) was another issue that seem to have dented the TRS prospects in the city outskirts. Certain divisions in the constituencies on the city outskirts clearly returned BJP nominees. Even in some flood-hit areas in the L.B. Nagar Assembly constituencies, the TRS paid a price for mishandling the relief operations.
TRS’s development agenda failed to match the aggressive campaign of the BJP leaders. The TRS fell into the trap of the systematic and strategic campaign of the BJP leaders and ended up trying to give clarifications on the accusations levelled against it.
Another factor that resulted in the poor show of TRS in L.B. Nagar and Maheshwaram Assembly constituencies was the strong backlash from a dominant forward caste community. There is a talk that these communities, traditionally Congress supporters, decided to vote for the BJP.
Defections of two Congress legislators to the TRS also did not go down well with the electorate, it was pointed out.
The Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM) continued to hold sway over its Old City strongholds but ended two short of its 2016 tally of 44 seats. It also managed to bring the minority community into its fold after repeatedly raking up the threats held out by the BJP to indulge in surgical strikes.
However, the biggest loser in this election is Congress which ended up in the fourth place winning merely two seats. The two seats also had something to do with the campaign launched by the Malkajgiri MP A. Revanth Reddy, who had assumed the responsibility of being the star campaigner. The poll debacle had a fall out with the State Congress president N. Uttam Kumar Reddy quitting his party post owning moral responsibility for the poor showing.
Overall, the results has landed the TRS in a spot. Although it has emerged as the single largest party, even with the support of the ex-officio members, it will fall short of the required majority. The question will be whether its friendly party MIM will bail it out by extending support? And whether the TRS and the MIM which repeatedly asserted that the election was a contest between the two parties join hands in taking over the reins?