Telangana election results 2018: TRS heads towards a massive victory for second successive term
Telangana Rasthra Samithi is heading towards a massive victory for a second successive term.
Going by the trends, TRS is likely to get a three-fourths majority in the 119-member assembly, elections for which were held on Friday. It is a huge mandate for the party, which won 63 seats, just three seats more than the absolute majority, in 2014. That year, the strong Telangana sentiment prevailed.
For People’s Front, or the grand alliance of four opposition parties comprising the Congress, the Telugu Desam Party, the CPI and fledgling Telangana Jana Sena, the election results have come as a big shock. During the month-long electioneering, the grand alliance appeared to have put up a spirited fight to the TRS.
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The one and only one factor that won the day for the TRS, appears to be the charisma of party president K Chandrasekhar Rao, who has driven his car (the party’s election symbol) to victory.
KCR -- as the caretaker chief minister is popularly known – launched TRS in 2001 and sustained the movement for Telangana statehood for 13 long years, emerging as a symbol of Telangana pride and self-respect. In the last four and a half years of his rule, he established his own brand in the state, which nobody could erase. Brand KCR helped script the 2018 victory.
A large section of the electorate could not find an effective alternative to KCR, who was seen as the only icon of Telangana. “Such is the impact he has created in the minds of the people, especially in the rural masses, that they call his party as Telangana party, rather than TRS. For them, the Congress is not a true Telangana party, but just a national party,” says political commentator S Ramakrishna.
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The strong Telangana sentiment which KCR had exploited before 2014, came to his rescue once again. The electorate appears to have viewed the unusual alliance between Congress and Telugu Desam Party, as a combine that tried to stall the formation of new state. KCR successfully managed to make the point, during his 100-odd election rallies, that the Andhra colonial rule would return to Telangana, if the grand alliance comes to power.
During the last four and a half years, KCR has impressed upon the people that he is rebuilding Telangana, which was subject to gross exploitation under the five-decade regime of combined Andhra Pradesh. He heralded the vision of transforming the state into a “Bangaru Telangana,” or Golden Telangana and he successfully took this concept into the people.
The developmental and welfare programmes taken up by KCR during his tenure, such as the construction of a mighty Kaleshwaram lift irrigation scheme at Rs 80,000 crore on Godavari river, Mission Kakatiya (restoration of defunct tanks), Mission Bhagiratha (piped drinking water supply to every household), round-the-clock free power supply to agriculture, Rythu Bandhu (financial assistance to farmers). Rythu Bima (life insurance to farmers), double bedroom housing, etc fetched him a lot of mileage.
Though some of these schemes and projects have not reached the beneficiaries, the TRS managed to convince the voter that KCR is a leader who can deliver. There were several sections which were not happy with KCR but that didn’t stop the TRS from crossing the finishing line.
During the campaign, an anti-incumbency sentiment prevailed in several constituencies against local TRS MLAs as they had almost lost connect with the people during their tenure. There was a general impression that power was totally centralised in Pragathi Bhavan, the palatial bungalow of KCR. The chief minister himself remained inaccessible to the common people.
Yet, the rural electorate was largely happy with KCR though they were not happy with their local MLAs. “I voted for TRS though I don’t like its candidate, only because KCR gave us Rs 40,000 for our land under Rythu Bandhu,” said Hareesh, a driver living in Khairatabad, who owns five acre land at his native Jajireddygudem village in Nalgonda district.
The steep increase in the percentage of voting in rural areas indicates that voters in villages -- farmers and OBCs in particular -- voted in large numbers to show their gratitude for KCR. Though there was visible disgruntlement among some sections of people including students, unemployed youth, employees, SCs and STs, it was not completely reflected in the voting pattern.
“It was a verdict on the performance of KCR as the first chief minister and large sections of people felt he could take the state in the right path. It was not a fight between the TRS and the Opposition alliance, but KCR and the rest. And the credit goes only to KCR,” political columnist and author Sriram Karri said.