2023 Telangana Assembly elections | Winds of change in Telangana

While the Congress gained back some of its older support base in the State, the BRS was not completely routed, and the BJP is on the rise

December 05, 2023 12:15 am | Updated 12:24 am IST

Telangana Congress chief A. Revanth Reddy celebrates the party’s victory in the Assembly elections, with party workers and supporters at Gandhi Bhavan in Hyderabad

Telangana Congress chief A. Revanth Reddy celebrates the party’s victory in the Assembly elections, with party workers and supporters at Gandhi Bhavan in Hyderabad | Photo Credit: PTI

The defeat of the Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS), which was at the forefront of the movement for statehood, and the victory of the Congress in Telangana shows a shift in the mood of voters away from the emotional sentiment of State formation to key issues of governance and administration.

Three key factors appear to have paved the way for the exit of the BRS. One, popular perceptions of corruption in the government. Two, unhappiness with family rule. And three, only a limited section of society has gained from the government’s key welfare schemes.

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The vote share difference between the Congress and the BRS is a mere 2 percentage points (Table 1). Yet, there was a sharp decline in the vote share of the BRS (by over 9 percentage points) and a dramatic increase in the vote share of the Congress (close to 11 points). The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)’s vote share has doubled in 2023 compared to the previous elections (from 7% to 14%).

The Lokniti-CSDS survey data indicate that more than seven of every 10 respondents felt that the K. Chandrashekar Rao-led government was involved in corruption during the last five years. Close to half the respondents (46%) believed that corruption had increased under the BRS government. The BRS was seen as more corrupt than the Congress and the BJP.

On the question of family rule, 52% rated the BRS in comparison to the Congress and BJP as being representative of this trend.

A large number of respondents mentioned that they did not benefit from many of the welfare schemes of the government. Close to eight of every 10 respondents (79%) did not benefit from the Telangana 2BHK Housing Scheme, close to half (51%) did not secure the KCR Kit, and half (50%) did not benefit from the fee reimbursement promised. Nearly half the respondents (48%) said that they did not benefit from the Aarogyasri scheme and 47% said that they did not benefit from the Kalyana Laxmi scheme. A majority of the respondents said that they benefited from the pension scheme (51%). So, what the BRS perceived as its flagship schemes appear to have benefited a small segment of voters.

Further, 34% reported that they perceived an increase in unemployment in the last five years.

Linked to the above three factors, the Congress managed to put together a winning social coalition. Among the young aspirational voters, the Congress had an 8 point advantage over the BRS. It also had an 8 point advantage over the BRS among voters with better access to education (Table 2). The Congress performed much better than the BRS in rural areas (5 points ahead), while the BRS was ahead in urban areas (3 points). In urban areas, the BJP captured 22% of the votes, while its share of votes in rural areas was just 8%. The Congress did much better than the BRS among the lower class and middle-class voters, while the BRS did better among the affluent sections of society.

As shown in Table 3, in the Greater Hyderabad region, the BRS won 16 of the 25 seats and the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) won 7. The Congress and the BJP won only one seat each. The Congress’s victory was on account of its performance in north and south Telangana. The BJP bagged most of its seats in north Telangana (7 of 8 seats).

The Congress secured close to half the influential Reddy votes and was ahead of the BRS among the Yadavs and a segment of the Scheduled Tribes (Lambadis). The BRS and Congress secured one-third each of the Muslim vote, while the AIMIM secured one-fourth. The BRS performed well among the non-Reddy upper castes, the Scheduled Castes, and non-Lambadi STs. The BJP won one-fourth of the non-Reddy upper caste vote (Table 4).

While the Congress gained back some of its older support base, the BRS was not completely routed, and the BJP is on the rise.

Thus, this outcome might only be a momentary transition. Much will depend upon how politics unfolds in the times to come.

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