Key takeaway from Lok Sabha poll results in Telangana: Rise of BJP and fall of BRS

The hopes of BRS leaders, particularly of KCR, for a turnaround lie shattered. He will have to build the party all over again, brick by brick.

ByRaj Rayasam

Published Jun 04, 2024 | 9:16 PM Updated Jun 04, 2024 | 11:22 PM

Telangana assembly election BJP manifesto

The rise of the BJP in the Lok Sabha elections in Telangana has become as sensational as the fall of the BRS.

The BJP, which won four of the 17 Lok Sabha seats in 2019, now has eight, a 100 percent gain.

The BRS had the hardest fall. It drew a blank. It could not win even Medak, which it believed it would retain again. It ceded the seat to BJP’s M Raghunandan Rao.

The constituency’s Gajwel and Siddipet Assembly segments are represented in the Assembly by BRS chief K Chandrashekar Rao and former Finance Minister T Harish Rao, respectively. The party won six of the seven segments in the constituency in the November 2023 Assembly elections.

Seats won by parties in Telangana

Seats won by parties in Telangana

The Congress also picked up eight seats, contrary to expectations that its tally would be in double digits, probably 12. The party has been walking on cloud nine after its sensational victory in the 2023 Assembly elections, but the momentum appears to have tapered off. It had to contend with eight.

Also read: BRS vote up for grabs

Cannibalising BRS votes

The inexorable slide of BRS fortunes in the Lok Sabha polls can only evoke sympathy. The hopes of BRS leaders, particularly of KCR, for a turnaround lie shattered. He will have to build the party all over again, brick by brick.

It is arduous, as no one wants to live in the BRS house anymore. The desolate road for rebuilding the party stretches out in front of him in endless miles.

The clear winner in the election is the BJP. It fed on the BRS vote bank to gain strength. Even in the Assembly election, BRS votes went to BJP and Congress. Now, they appear to have claimed whatever votes still remained with BRS.

Analysts attribute the migration of votes from BRS to the perception that the fortunes of the pink party were on a relentless downward spiral. This apart, KCR’s undoing was his habit of always riding two horses—BJP and AIMIM—to have the best of both worlds.

Related: BJP candidates heckle Muslims

Muslims wary of BRS

Fully exploiting KCR’s fad, which he probably considers his USP, the Congress leaders kept saying that the Enforcement Directorate had not arrested Kavitha in the Delhi liquor scam, though it called her a suspect in the case because he was covertly pally with the saffron party.

This seemed to have made the Muslims wonder if he was all that secular. When the Assembly elections arrived, they seemed to have decided to go with Congress. The party appeared a sure bet since it won the elections in neighbouring Karnataka and seemed sure to ride to power in Telangana, which it did.

In the Lok Sabha elections, the BRS became a party of no consequence after it suffered a debilitating defeat at the hands of the Congress. With BJP and Congress engaged in a bipolar fight this time, BRS, badly bruised in the Assembly elections, appeared irrelevant.

The BRS argument that it alone can question the injustice done to Telangana in Parliament did not cut any ice with the people. Whatever Muslim minority votes were left with BRS seemed to have shifted to Congress because they doubted KCR’s anti-BJP credentials.

The BRS has tried its best to salvage itself after the Assembly election debacle. It tried to rouse the Telangana sentiment but could not reignite the passion.

Related: KCR tries his best to revive BRS

Telangana credentials dented

As the BRS had no other issue, it had to rely on its Telangana credentials, which were not getting any traction with the people, while the BJP harped on its Hindutva chorus while the Congress kept at its secular bonafides.

The cup of BRS woes began overflowing even ahead of Assembly polls when Medigadda piers sank. It came as a major embarrassment to the party. It dealt a blow to the credibility of the argument that “Kaleshwaram” was an engineering marvel and that it was Telangana’s lifeline. The Congress argued that it was the vehicle for the BRS to make money. It ordered a judicial inquiry into its construction and irregularities in the power sector.

K Kavitha’s arrest and ED charge sheets detailing her role in the Delhi liquor scam damaged the party’s image and credibility. The Congress and the BJP continued pounding the BRS using Kavitha’s alleged involvement in the liquor scam.

Apart from that, phone tapping was an issue that became a sore point for BRS ahead of the Lok Sabha elections. The confession statements of top police officials who ran the State Intelligence Bureau (SIB) during the BRS regime showed how KCR had used the state machinery to further his political interests and retrain his political rivals. The confession statements also revealed how KCR had thought of exerting pressure on the BJP to let his daughter of ED’s hook in the Delhi liquor scam.

According to analysts, Congress and BJP split BRS votes to the extent that the pink party could not win even one seat in the election. One Congress leader said that his party’s votes remained intact while minority votes shifted to the grand old party. The remaining Hindu voters of BRS, who were anti-Congress, turned to the BJP.

Also read: Revanth expected to win 10 seats

Congress came up short

The Congress’s results are a bit disappointing. However, they are an improvement over its 2019 performance, when it won three seats. Two were in Nalgonda district, a citadel of the Congress, and the other was Malkajgiri, where incumbent chief minister A Revanth Reddy won.

The party could have won at least three more seats had it fielded better candidates in Secunderabad, Chevella, and Mahbubnagar, which went to the BJP.

BRS turncoat D Nagender, who does not hold much in the constituency except his Khairatabad Assembly segment,  was the Congress nominee who could not rise to the occasion. Union Minister G Kishan Reddy easily won the seat.

In Chevella, sitting BRS MP Gaddam Ranjith Reddy contested on a Congress ticket after joining the grand old party. He proved no match to BJP’s Konda Visweswara Reddy who has a clean image. In Mahbubnagar, too, Challa Vamsichand Reddy was a weak candidate, though he fought valiantly before going down to DK Aruna of the BJP.

But losing Mahbubnagar would remain a blot on Revanth Reddy’s performance as he hails from the district. He tried to help Vamsichand Reddy, who had been in his good books since the beginning but could not succeed. This is the second blow to Revanth Reddy on the trot, as Congress nominee Manne Jeevan Reddy lost the by-election to the Telangana Legislative Council from the Local Authorities constituency only on Sunday.