The Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS), which scored a landslide victory in the recently held Assembly elections, has suffered a setback in the parliamentary polls.
The ruling party in Telangana was hopeful of securing 16 of the 17 Lok Sabha seats but the results shows that it may not be able to reach the double digit mark. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress, which faced a humiliating defeat in the Assembly elections held in December 2018, have sprung a surprise with the former bagging four and the latter winning three seats.
The TRS anticipated a hung Parliament and entertained hopes of playing a key role in the formation of the next government. Accordingly, party president and Chief Minister K. Chandrashekar Rao also floated the concept of “Federal Front”, a so-called coalition of regional parties and lobbied for the formation of a non-BJP and non-Congress government.
However, the TRS slogan of ‘Saaru, Caru, Padaharu’ (Sir, Car and 16), which meant that Mr. KCR would play a big role in the national politics, came crashing (car is the symbol of the TRS). The BJP made good inroads into the North Telangana heartland where the TRS had won a decisive mandate in the Assembly elections.
In less than four months, the TRS has been decimated in Nizamabad, Adilabad and Karimnagar, where the BJP put up stellar performance as its candidates won with convincing margins. The other seat won by the BJP is Secunderabad where senior leader G. Kishan Reddy has been elected comfortably .
In Nizamabad, the sitting TRS MP, Kalvakuntla Kavitha, daughter of Mr. Chandrasekhar Rao, lost to the BJP candidate Dharmapuri Aravind by a margin of over 68,000.
The Congress has also lot to cheer as TPCC president N. Uttam Kumar Reddy (Nalgonda), working president A. Revanth Reddy (Malkajgiri) and Komatireddy Venkat Reddy (Bhongir) wrested the seats although with slender victory margin.
In Chevella, its close fight between Konda Vishveshwar Reddy (Congress) and Dr. G. Ranjith Reddy (TRS) as the leads played hide and seek between the two contestants.
The TRS was able to retain Medak, Zaheerabad, Mahabubnagar, Warangal, Peddapalli, Mahabubabad and Chevella. It wrested the Khammam and Nagarkurnool seats which were held by the YSRCP and the Congress in 2014.
The high-pitch campaign by Mr. KCR and his son and working president K.T. Rama Rao failed to pull through in certain constituencies where it had fielded newcomers and candidates with little political acumen and experience. The party, sources said, had taken for granted that the winning-streak in the Assembly elections would continue and failed to grasp the ground reality. Its overconfidence also cost it in a big way. But, the victory margin in the eight of the nine seats, which it won should give solace to the leadership.
Party leaders admit that certain “highly objectionable remarks” by Mr. KCR against the Hindus did not go down well with the voters, who felt it as an affront to their self-respect. His campaign centred around criticism of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The Hindutva factor also played a role in the BJP faring well.
The BJP leadership said the image of Mr. Modi, the craze among the youth on the recent Balakot attack and the patriotic fervour created by the party worked in its favour.
The Congress on the other hand feels relieved that the seasoned leaders were able to turn the tide in their favour. All the three victorious Congress candidates are quite familiar with the electorate and had wide contacts unlike their rivals.