How BRS evolved from ‘movement party’ to a political powerhouse in Telangana

Political setbacks have failed to deter its high spirits backed by a slew of welfare measures, development works

Updated - June 02, 2023 01:47 pm IST

Published - June 02, 2023 02:11 am IST - HYDERABAD

File picture of women cadre of TRS party at a rally

File picture of women cadre of TRS party at a rally | Photo Credit: G. Ramakrishna

From a ‘movement party’ that spearheaded the 13-year fight for a separate Telangana State, the Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) has evolved into a ‘pucca’ (solid) political entity. During the past nine years, the party has adopted a two-pronged strategy, which involves both organic growth and deliberate efforts to weaken Opposition parties, including the Left, as it goes from strength to strength, solidifying its position as a political force to reckon with.

At any given opportunity, party founder-president and Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao does not hesitate to assert that “we are not any charitable organisation but a pure political party out there, growing as an organisation in our endeavour to serve people effectively and in the process, try to outsmart our political opponents and win electoral battles”.

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True to his statement, BRS (earlier known as Telangana Rashtra Samithi) has grown exponentially over the past nine years. Through its political acumen, the party has effectively marginalised certain parties with substantial grassroots support, reducing them to a state of near-decimation, which is evident from their current struggle for survival. “From the not-so-confident position of coming to power in the 2014 elections, we have now grown into a formidable political force with about 70-lakh membership. The party mechanism is present in every habitation,” says a senior BRS leader holding a key position in the government.

Although having secured a simple majority of 63 out of 119 seats (52.94%) in the 2014 elections, the party leadership wasted no time in taking decisive action. It actively sought to strengthen its position by encouraging defections from Opposition parties, particularly the Congress and Telugu Desam Party (TDP), which had won 21 and 15 seats, respectively. Its efforts to engineer defections in the two parties were hastened up once the TDP allegedly tried to lure a few TRS (BRS) MLAs to win an MLC seat in 2016. The aim was to undermine the moral strength of the TRS before the scheme was exposed. Notably, A. Revanth Reddy, who was a member of the TDP at that time and currently serves as the president of Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC), played a key role in this.

By the time TRS went to early elections in 2018, its strength in the Assembly rose to 93 with a majority of Congress and TDP MLAs as also those from YSR Congress Party, Bahujan Samaj Party, Communist Party of India and an Independent merging themselves with TRS. The TDP’s “misadventure” cost it very dearly not only in the 2018 elections but also forcing, indirectly, the Andhra Pradesh government led by the same party to vacate the common Secretariat here six years in advance.

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Riding the wave of Telangana sentiment for the second time and backed by a slew of welfare measures and developmental works, TRS succeeded in putting up a formidable show in the 2018 elections by securing over two-thirds majority — 88 seats (74% of 119 seats). The party plans to weaken the Opposition further — its strength stands at 101 as of date in the 118-member Assembly (one seat falling vacant due to death of TRS MLA G.Sayanna) with Congress (14) and TDP (2) MLAs merging with TRS.

However, the ruling party has suffered some setbacks, as it lost the Dubbak and Huzurabad Assembly seats to a resurgent Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) after the party’s strength in the Lok Sabha decreased from 12 seats in 2014 to nine in the 2019 Parliamentary elections. Nonetheless, the party managed to gain the Huzurnagar and Munugode Assembly seats from the Congress while retaining the Nagarjunasagar constituency.

Despite the Congress attempting to capitalise on the momentum from their recent success in Karnataka Assembly polls, in the upcoming Assembly elections in six months, the BRS leadership remains confident in their ability to keep the Opposition parties at bay and retain power for a third term.

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