Telangana: How Hindu Vote Consolidation Dented KCR Dreams and Denied Principal Oppn Space to Congress
In Telangana, particularly in the Hyderabad Lok Sabha constituency, the secular vote seems to have been split between TRS and Congress.
File photo of TRS president and Telangana CM K Chandrashekar Rao. (Image : PTI)
Never assume that a sweep in one election will automatically lead to one in another election, even if they are held within months. This is a lesson Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao has had to learn with the 2019 election results.
Having won two-thirds majority in the assembly elections held last December, KCR’s TRS has struggled in the parliamentary election while his daughter Kavitha Kalvakuntla lost the Nizamabad seat. Overall, the party won nine of 17 Lok Sabha seats in Telangana.
Interestingly, it was BJP candidate Arvind Dharmapuri who defeated KCR's daughter and not the Congress's former MP, Madhu Yashki Goud. In fact, the BJP bagged four seats, whereas the Congress managed to win three.
This is a jolt not just for the Telangana Rashtra Samiti, but even political analysts. The BJP was considered a marginal player in Telangana and has never won a parliamentary seat without an alliance. Even in the assembly elections, it was a distant player and the battle was between the Congress and the TRS.
So, what explains the sudden rise of the BJP in Telangana?
Firstly, there has been a solid consolidation of the Hindu vote since the secular vote split between the TRS and the Congress. Secondly, the message seems to be that the electorate wants the TRS at the state level, but wants a clear national government.
The fact is that the Congress is on a down turn in the state and this result means it is in serious competition with the BJP for even the opposition space in Telangana, a troubling realisation for the Congress.
More importantly, even Asaduddin Owaisi, whose family has held the Muslim-dominated Hyderabad seat for decades, had to fight a tough battle and was even trailing for a while on counting day. The challenger was the BJP and not the Congress in Hyderabad, and this shows that there has been a certain Hindu vote consolidation.
This consolidation could form the base for the BJP in the state and it will make every effort to build itself as the principal opposition party. The Congress's problem has been that it has not been able to rebuild itself in India's youngest state despite having created it. It's been slacking and hasn't had a strong state leader. Further, the alliance with the TDP caused a major backlash in Telangana as the TDP had opposed the division of Andhra Pradesh.
So, the national Congress vote and the anti-TRS vote seems to be searching for a strong opponent to the regional party. A section of this vote, along with a Hindu consolidation, seems to have bolstered the BJP.
The BJP has won in Karimnagar, Nizamabad, Secunderabad and Adilabad. In all these seats, there is a sizeable minority population and that vote has split between the Congress and TRS. However, the Hindu consolidation behind the BJP seems to have taken it through.
(Author is a senior journalist)
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