Hyderabad: The Congress party in Telangana hopes to pose a stiff challenge to the state’s ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) in the 2019 assembly polls, encouraged by its success in limiting the victory margin of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Gujarat.
Apart from cornering the TRS on its poll promises made before the 2014 elections, the Congress is also looking to strengthen itself by concentrating on the Dalit, other backward caste (OBC) and Muslim voters. The Telangana Pradesh Congress Committee (TPCC) has set up a control room at its Hyderabad office to monitor its grassroots level activities in the state.
Over the last few months, the Congress has aggressively stepped up its Leadership Development Mission in Reserved Constituencies (LDMRC) programme, through which it aims to groom and empower more Dalit leaders, and eventually win most of the reserved seats in the state. In Telangana, there are 31 such assembly constituencies.
“The LDMRC programme is currently in its second phase and we are looking to expand the same model to the non-reserved seats as well in Telangana, given its success," said state Congress spokesperson Sravan Dasoju said.
“The TRS in Telangana has failed to keep up its election promises. It introduced 12% reservation for Muslims in the state, by exceeding the 50% limit (the bill now waits for the President’s nod) and has also failed on other counts," stated Dasoju. As of now, the Congress has 13 MLAs in the 119-member Telangana assembly.
In the 2014 assembly elections, the Congress had won 21 seats, but eight of its lawmakers along with MLAs from other opposition parties defected to the ruling TRS which had won 63 seats, and now has 90 MLAs including those who defected to it. However, there was a silver lining for the Congress a few months ago when former Telugu Desam Party (TDP) MLA A.Revanth Reddy joined the party, along with many of his supporters, including some of the TDP’s district and state level leaders.
Political analyst Palwai Raghavender Reddy, however, had a different view. “I think the TRS is happy with the results of the Gujarat state assembly elections. It does not show that Congress is making a comeback, nor did it tell us that the BJP has been able to show its absolute authority," he said. He added that the biggest threat for the TRS in Telangana is the Congress, given its strong organizational strength.
TRS MP from Bhongir Boora Narsaiah Goud said in the context of the Gujarat election results, the Congress should have won if it had something to offer and that it did not have anything better to offer to the people. “The Congress ruled Telangana for the longest time, and has offered whatever it can and failed. All it can do is criticize the chief minister and the TRS," Goud told Mint.
The TRS MP stated that the Congress does not come up with solutions to problems. “If at all it comes to power, then all the development which is on track, be it industries or electricity, will be undone in the state," he added.