S. Nagesh Kumar

The Congress and the Telugu Desam Party have put up

a strong showing

HYDERABAD: The Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) suffered a significant political setback on Sunday when it lost ten out of the 17 Assembly and two of the four Lok Sabha seats in Telangana for which by-elections were held on May 29.

On the other hand, the Congress and the Telugu Desam Party have put up a strong showing winning six and five Assembly seats respectively and one Lok Sabha seat each.

The TDP’s tally includes Therlam seat in coastal Andhra where it faced a token contest in the absence of a Congress nominee.

After announcement of the results, TRS president K. Chandrasekhar Rao caused a flutter by making himself unavailable to the media triggering off speculation that he planned to step down from the party post.

Telengana issue

Mr. Rao had triggered these by-elections by asking his MPs and MLAs to resign to show his party’s grip over the `Telangana sentiment’ and “teach the Congress a lesson for betraying the cause of Telangana.”

But, the outcome turned out to be different. He narrowly avoided losing his Karimnagar Lok Sabha seat. His margin of victory plummeted to 15,000 votes from the two lakh-plus margin in the 2006 by-election. In contrast, his nephew and a key party leader,

T. Harish Rao, won by a thumping majority of 59,000 votes in Siddipet Assembly constituency.

TRS candidates drew a blank in Hyderabad losing deposits in two of the three seats in the capital.

The TRS drew comfort that it retaining seven Assembly and two Lok Sabha seats even after snapping its alliance with the Congress. The CPI (M), CPI and the BJP did not open their account.

The by-elections witnessed triangular fights with the TRS seeking votes on `Telangana sentiment’, the Congress on the development plank and the Telugu Desam on the anti-incumbency factor.

However, the Congress and the TDP also focussed their campaign on the issue of the region’s backwardness but stopped short of explicitly supporting separate Telangana.

Morale-booster

The results came as a morale-booster for the Telugu Desam as its performance was better than expected because it won just 11 seats in Telangana in the 2004.

Its leaders said the results showed that the TDP’s vote bank was intact and their campaign against corruption in the Congress had worked.

Similarly, the Congress claimed that the government’s performance on the development front and popularity of its welfare schemes had impressed voters. Its leaders are upbeat over wresting many seats that were traditionally held by the TDP ever since 1983 before the Congress allotted them to the TRS in their alliance.

‘Not TRS monopoly’

The Congress and the TDP responded guardedly to the question whether the TRS’ poor showing meant a defeat for the Telangana sentiment. Chief Minister Y. S. Rajasekhara Reddy said the Telangana sentiment was not a monopoly of the TRS while Telugu Desam president N. Chandrababu Naidu said results had to be analysed in detail before arriving at any conclusion.

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