New poll narratives catch TRS on the back foot

TRS supporters watch the election results on TV at TRS Bhavan in Hyderabad on Friday.   | Photo Credit: Nagara Gopal

The disappointing results for the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) in the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) are an indication of growing resentment in a new era of poll campaign that the TRS has not seen since the new State was formed.

This was the first election since 2014 where the sentiment was not the poll plank. It was also the first election where the campaign narrative was not set by TRS chief and Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao but the Opposition parties.

It was also the first election in separate Telangana where the presence of Congress, Telugu Desam Party and the Left parties was diminished with their space taken away by the ruling party itself and perhaps the first election in Telangana where religion and nationalism dominated the campaign bringing the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) into play.

In the backdrop of such a scenario, the TRS had to contest the elections in an entirely new space and narrative to which it is not used to. Yes, Telangana sentiment has not lost the steam but pitted against the hyper-nationalistic and religious sentiment raked up by the BJP the sentiment got overshadowed.

Some key issues that the TRS totally failed to realise for the poor show not lay just in the city but also across the State. One of them is the Land Regularisation Scheme (LRS) that had angered the middle and lower middle classes given the huge burden put on them, and that too at a time when they are in financial distress. The issue was also a major factor in Dubbak by-poll. And their anger was silent.

TRS’s proximity to the AIMIM and the perceived arrogance of Owaisi’s party in the Assembly and outside was successfully exploited by the BJP. People have come to believe that MIM and TRS were transferring each other’s vote wherever they required for mutual benefit. And this vexation was silent again.

Inability to deliver the double bedroom houses as promised repeatedly also spoiled the party’s image while there was a proper channel for students and youngsters to let out their anger in the form of BJP that believed in aggression and creation of a new narrative to push the TRS on the back foot.

The overtly ‘misuse’ of official machinery and the police’s stranglehold on the civil society is another allegation that the party ignored and failed to tackle. When the strong BJP used this plank to counter attack the government, a section of the society could do nothing but to agree.

TRS working president K.T. Rama Rao led a spirited fight back on the nationalistic and religious narrative but the real people’s issues that TRS was ignoring all these days were not on his radar too.

And as several TRS party leaders agree, the party did not sense the danger signals from Dubbak by-poll too. GHMC elections may be a shocker but the fact remains that people have not rejected the party outright. Neither have they accepted the BJP totally. The gaping gap can be still plugged.

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Printable version | Jan 28, 2021 6:27:45 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Hyderabad/new-poll-narratives-catch-trs-on-the-back-foot/article33254091.ece

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