Friday, July 19, 2024

Riding on anti-incumbency, Congress finally captures Telangana

Nearly a decade after it carved out Telangana, the Congress stormed to power in India’s youngest state, riding on anti-incumbency against the KCR-led BRS government.

Successfully replicating its Karnataka model, the Congress put a brake to its electoral losses in Telangana, dashing the hopes of the Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) of scoring a hat-trick.

As predicted by most exit polls, the Congress secured a clear majority in the 119-member Assembly. As per the official information available with the Election Commission of India on Sunday evening, the Congress won 47 seats and was leading in 17 other constituencies. Its ally CPI also won the lone seat it contested.

The Congress, which had won only 19 seats in 2018, had only five members in the dissolved Assembly as it lost a dozen MLAs to BRS, one to BJP and one seat in the by-election.

The grand old party, which had lost all the by-elections held since 2019 and had dismal performance in the Greater Hyderabad municipal polls, appeared down and out till a few months ago.

It, however, bounced back after Congress’ victory in neighbouring Karnataka. Banking on the six guarantees announced on the lines of promises made in Karnataka and aggressively taking on KCR over the family rule issue and alleged corruption, the Congress came out with a dramatic improvement in its performance to capture power.

BRS, which was facing anti-incumbency after two terms in power, suffered defeat to end with 39 seats. The party had 104 seats in the dissolved Assembly and it was hoping to retain power even if it lost 40 seats. However, it failed to retain a whopping 65 seats.

BJP, which was seen as an alternative to the BRS till a few months ago, also improved its numbers. The saffron party, which had won only one seat in 2018 but added two seats in the by-elections, emerged victorious in eight constituencies.

The All India Majlis-E-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM), a friendly party of BRS, appears to be retaining all seven seats in its stronghold of Hyderabad.

The speculation of a hung Assembly had kept the Congress leaders on tenterhooks. Karnataka Deputy Chief Minister D.K. Shivakumar and other observers of AICC had reached Hyderabad on Saturday to foil any poaching attempt by the BRS. They were camping at a city hotel and were closely monitoring the trends since Sunday morning.

When it became clear that the Congress would secure a clear majority, Shivakumar and Telangana Pradesh Congress Committee (TPCC) President A. Revanth Reddy reached Gandhi Bhavan, the party headquarters.

Revanth Reddy, who is likely to be named the next Chief Minister by the leadership after a meeting of the newly-elected MLAs, dedicated the victory to Telangana’s martyrs and vowed to work to fulfil their aspirations.

The TPCC chief declared that Congress will work for reviving democracy in the state and announced that the doors of the state Secretariat will be thrown open for the public. He also announced that Pragati Bhavan, the official residence of the Chief Minister, will be renamed as Babasahed Ambedkar Praja Bhavan.

Revanth Reddy was elected from his home constituency Kodangal by a huge margin of over 32,000 votes, while KCR retained his constituency Gajwel.

However, both KCR and Revanth Reddy suffered a surprising defeat at the hands of the BJP candidate in Kamareddy constituency, with Venkat Ramna Reddy defeating KCR by a margin of 5,156 votes. Revanth Reddy, who had entered the fray to challenge KCR, finished third.

Venkat Ramna Reddy was the only local among the three main candidates. While KCR hails from undivided Medak district, Revanth Reddy comes from undivided Mahabubnagar district.

Meanwhile, KCR has sent his resignation to Governor Tamilisai Soundararajan.

KCR was expected to reach Raj Bhavan to submit his resignation. He, however, quietly left Pragati Bhavan in his private car. He did not reach Raj Bhavan and it was later learnt that he has sent his resignation.

The Chief Minister is reported to have left for his farmhouse at Erravalli village in Medak district.

At least six ministers also lost the elections. KCR’s son K.T. Rama Rao and nephew T. Harish Rao were among the ministers who could retain their seats.

Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader Mallu Bhatti Vikramarka retained his Madhira (SC) seat, while former TPCC president Uttam Kumar Reddy was elected from Huzurabad.

The Congress had an almost clean sweep in south Telangana and won majority seats in north Telangana. However, the BRS continued its domination in and around Hyderabad.

The BJP did well in north Telangana to win seven seats. However, the party suffered a huge setback with all its three MPs, including party General Secretary Bandi Sanjay, losing the elections. Sitting MLAs Eatala Rajender and M. Raghunandan Rao also failed to retain their seats, which they had won in the by-elections.

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