Hyderabad: The Congress-led Praja Kutami, or people’s front, succumbed to the political might of Telangana caretaker chief minister K. Chandrashekar Rao-led Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS), decimating the national party’s grand plans of conjuring up a coalition of regional parties to take on the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) next year.
The TRS victory also dispelled the Congress belief that any party would require its support, or the BJP’s, to form a government at the Centre. The pre-poll alliance with Andhra Pradesh chief minister N.Chandrababu Naidu-led Telugu Desam Party (TDP), the Communist Party of India (CPI) and Telangana Jana Samithi (TJS), failed to build momentum for the loosely evolving ‘mahagathbandhan’, which began in Karnataka in May, when the Congress partnered the Janata Dal (Secular) to take on the BJP.
The Congress won 19 seats of the 99 it contested, while its alliance partner Telugu Desam Party (TDP) won only two of the 13 it contested, at the time of filing this report.
The Communist Party of India and Telangana Jana Samithi failed to secure any seat. Telangana Congress president Uttam Kumar Reddy was quick to allege electronic voting machine (EVM) tampering and deletion of nearly 2.2 million names from the electoral list.
However, Reddy did not say if the alleged EVM tampering was the sole factor responsible for its dismal performance.
The loss in Telangana came as a bitter-sweet experience for the Congress, which gained in Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, giving it a foothold in the Hindi heartland ahead of the Lok Sabha polls, but rescinding its position in a state where it was in power as recently as four years ago.
“Whatever anti-incumbency TRS faced, the Congress gave the advantage away by making Naidu its mascot," said Mohan Guruswamy, political analyst and chairman of the Delhi-based Centre for Policy Alternatives.
The Congress joined hands with Naidu, who was against the bifurcation of a united Andhra Pradesh and the creation of Telangana, in a desperate attempt to return to power in the state.
Guruswamy said that Naidu is also seen as someone who is creating problems in sharing river water and division of assets.
The defeat of the alliance also debunked Congress and Naidu’s claims that they had the backing of the politically dominant and economically well-off communities such as the Reddys and Kammas.