Telangana election results 2023: Rural booster puts Congress in power
Even as the rest of India witnessed a lacklustre performance from the Congress, the youngest state, Telangana, became a beacon of hope for the Grand Old Party, poised to secure 64 seats, surpassing the simple majority mark of 60 needed to form a government in the southern state. A key driving force behind the Congress victory was its success in rural constituencies outside the Hyderabad area.
This marks the first instance since the formation of the state in 2014 that any party other than Kalvakuntla Chandrashekar Rao (KCR)-led Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) is set to assume power.
However, with only a marginal majority, political analysts expect a power struggle between Telangana Congress chief Revanth Reddy and Legislature Party leader Mallu Bhatti Vikramarka for the position of chief minister (CM).
According to local media reports, the party’s crisis manager, Karnataka Deputy CM Doddalahalli Kempegowda Shivakumar, is taking action to unite the new Members of Legislative Assembly (MLAs). The Congress’ vote share has surged from a mere 28 per cent in the 2018 Assembly elections to 39 per cent this year, based on the latest available reports.
Another significant winner in the polls was the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which saw its share double from 7 per cent to 14 per cent, securing eight seats compared to one in the previous election. On the other hand, BRS suffered losses, with its share decreasing from 47 per cent in 2018 to 37 per cent this time, and the number of seats dropping from 88 to 39. The All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen led by Asaduddin Owaisi saw a decline in vote share from 3 per cent to 2 per cent while retaining seven seats, according to the latest available numbers.
BRS leader Kalvakuntla Taraka Rama Rao (popularly known by his initials KTR) expressed disappointment but not sadness over the results. Despite the ongoing power struggle, what favoured the Congress was its increased share of votes in rural Telangana compared to Hyderabad and nearby areas.
This rural-urban divide is meaningful, considering that Hyderabad contributes around 45 per cent of the state’s revenue. As of the last update, of 15 seats in the Hyderabad area, the Congress was leading in only one seat.
In a major setback for KCR, he lost the polls to the BJP’s Katipally Venkata Ramana Reddy at the Kamareddy seat. “The big story of this election was the BJP making inroads into the state by doubling its votes to 14 per cent. I believe that Revanth Reddy will become the CM as he may already have the support of a majority of MLAs, and Vikramarka may become deputy CM to ensure Dalit participation,” said Rama Krishna Sangem, a veteran journalist and political analyst.
R Chandru, head of the Department of Political Science at Osmania University, said that family bias and charges of graft worked against BRS as a political party. Several family members of KCR are involved in politics, including his son KTR, daughter Kalvakuntla Kavitha, a member of the Telangana Legislative Council, Thaneeru Harish Rao, son of KCR’s sister who was handling the finance and health portfolios, and Joginapally Santosh Kumar, son of KCR’s wife Shobha’s sister, a member of the Rajya Sabha.
“KCR was not meeting the cadre. Interestingly, rural parts were not seeing the kind of development Hyderabad was witnessing,” Chandru observed.