Unmistakably, the rationale behind the creation of a separate state of Telangana has been a dominant factor in shaping the outcome of the just-concluded simultaneous elections to the Lok Sabha and the State Assembly in Andhra Pradesh. Both in the flamboyant comeback of Telugu Desam Party (TDP) leader N. Chandrababu Naidu in the ‘Seemandhra’ region — which will comprise the somewhat larger residuary state of Andhra Pradesh once the bifurcation formally comes into effect on June 2 — and in the convincing victory of the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) in the ‘Telangana’ region led by K. Chandrasekhar Rao, it is largely the people’s concerns and anxieties over the way forward post-bifurcation that appear to have been reflected in the poll results. If the sweep for the TRS in ‘Telangana’ — winning 11 of the 17 Lok Sabha seats and 63 of the 119-member new Assembly to be constituted for that region — was the people’s way of legitimising its sustained role in the past decade in carving out a separate state, Mr. Naidu outsmarted the initial front-runner, the YSR Congress, in coastal Andhra, romping home with a major chunk of the seats in alliance with the BJP. Apart from the ‘Modi factor’ felt more in the Lok Sabha poll results, in Seemandhra the TDP leader, who was criticised for being a ‘fence-sitter’ on the Telangana issue in the post-2008 phase, converted a political crisis into an opportunity in this election by reassuring an electorate, anxious and uncertain of the residuary state’s economic future, that coastal Andhra will be rejuvenated with a new dynamism. It chimed with Mr. Naidu’s image as Andhra Pradesh’s ‘CEO’ in an earlier decade when he was largely instrumental in making Hyderabad a global city.
Thus, the TDP has emerged as the single largest party, bagging over 106 of the 175 Assembly constituencies in the Seemandhra region, belying expectations of a sweep by its key regional rival, the YSR Congress. Though the Congress’s performance was slightly better in the Telangana turf, overall it has been a washout for the national party considering it had doggedly pushed for the blossoming of Telangana. On the other hand, in Seemandhra the blow to the Congress and to its breakaway regional avataar — the corruption tag on Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy also dragged down the fortunes of the YSR Congress — shows that stability at the Centre and development at the State level outweighed other considerations in the voters’ minds. This is besides the new local caste equations which a divided Congress failed to handle on an even keel as the bifurcation process came to fruition in Parliament not long ago. Hopefully, the cloud over the constitutional steps in the formal bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh will be lifted soon.