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HindustanTimes Tue,23 Dec 2014

The gamble that never paid off for Congress

Aurangzeb Naqshbandi, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, June 02, 2014
First Published: 00:18 IST(2/6/2014) | Last Updated: 09:10 IST(2/6/2014)

Bifurcating Andhra Pradesh was a risk that never paid off for the Congress. The move cost them dear in both the Lok Sabha and assembly elections as they were decimated in both Telangana and Seemandhra.

While anger against the bifurcation reduced the Congress to a fringe player in Seemandhra, the party lost the first-mover advantage to the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) in Telangana.

Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s first rally in Telangana came as late as April 16, more than a month after Parliament cleared the move to bifurcate Andhra Pradesh.

Despite repeated assertions by Gandhi that her party alone was responsible for creating Telangana as the country’s 29th state, it won just two of the 17 Lok Sabha seats and 21 of the 119 assembly seats.

In fact, these Lok Sabha polls saw Congress slump to their worst ever defeat.

On the other hand, the TRS stormed into power by winning 63 seats.

TRS party president K Chandrasekhara Rao will take the oath as the first chief minister of Telangana on Monday after having steered the agitation for a separate state for more than a decade.

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Riding on the Modi wave, the TDP-BJP alliance won 106 of the 175 assembly seats in Seemandhra, 18 more than the magic figure of 88 required to form the government in residuary Andhra Pradesh.

The YSR Congress won 67 seats, proving wrong some of the opinion polls that had predicted a landslide for Jaganmohan Reddy’s party.

Having ruled Andhra Pradesh for more than four decades in its 57 years of existence, the Congress failed to open its account.

And for the first time, it would not even have representation in the assembly of the residuary state.

The party also failed to win from any of the 25 seats in Seemandhra.

This was a big setback for the Congress since Andhra Pradesh had helped the party to come to power in 2004 elections and then retain it in 2009.

The party won 29 out of total 42 seats in 2004 and the tally increased to 33 in 2009.

The Congress also won state elections in 2004 and 2009.

The fears of huge electoral loss in Seemandhra did force the Congress to go slow on Telangana.

It took almost a decade for the party to fulfil the promise made by Sonia Gandhi at a public meeting in Karimnagar during an election campaign in 2004.

However, the leadership eventually realised that any further delay would adversely hurt the party’s poll prospects in the entire state as the TDP and the YSR Congress had gained a lot of ground in Seemandhra while the TRS was ahead in Telangana.


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