Telangana Assembly polls: Will dumping CPI(M) and CPI cost BRS dearly? Numbers suggest otherwise

In the 2018 election, the Left parties, fighting the BRS, influenced elections in 10 seats, 8 of which the party lost. It can't do any worse.

BySouth First Desk

Published Aug 24, 2023 | 11:00 AM Updated Aug 24, 2023 | 11:00 AM


After being denied tickets by the BRS leadership, the Left parties — the CPI and the CPI(M) — announced that they would join hands for the 2023 Assembly polls in Telangana. This leaves us with the prospect of the Left parties contesting alone in their core constituencies — or aligning with the Congress across the state.

The top leadership of the Left parties, after a meeting on Tuesday, 22 August, also warned BRS supremo and Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao, popularly known as KCR, that his party would pay a heavy price for ignoring the Left vote bank.

Has KCR really made a tactical mistake in ignoring the Left parties? By not tying up with the communists, has BRS lost out on a possible third term?

The argument of the Left parties that the BRS won last November’s Munugode bypoll only because of their support can be taken at face value.

However, their argument that they are capable of deciding the fate of BRS candidates in other constituencies does not pass muster, given their past electoral performance.

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What do the numbers say?

In the 2018 Telangana Assembly polls, TRS (now BRS) faced a challenge from the Mahakutami alliance, which included the CPI. The CPI(M) had contested the elections independently.

A look at the numbers available on the Election Commission of India (ECI) website show that BRS won 88 seats with 46.87 percent vote share, while the Congress won 19 seats with a 28.43 percent vote share.

The Congress vote share includes the votes of the CPI as they were prepoll alliance partners. It is only the vote share of the CPI(M) which is missing from the Congress vote share of 28.43 percent in the 2018 polls.

Thus, the BRS could comfortably win 88 seats even when the CPI backed the Congress.

We now need to look into the prospect of BRS losing out on any seats due to the expected joint support of the CPI and CPI(M) to the Congress in coming Assembly polls, slated for year-end.

As Left parties are already part of INDIA alliance, it is only to be assumed that they will join hands with Congress in Telangana, especially as the BRS has ruled out any alliance with them.

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The 2018 scenario

After the 2018 polls, due to defections from the Congress, the BRS numbers rose to 103 instead of the original strength of 88 MLAs.

Out of 19 seats originally won by the Congress, a significant number were constituencies where the Left parties enjoyed a loyal voter base.

The Congress won in Nakrekal, Palair, Bhadrachalam, Yellandu, Pinapaka, Madhira, and Munugode seats with the support of the CPI voter base.

The TDP, which was also a part of the Mahakutami alliance, won in Sattupalli and Aswaraopeta. The CPI core voter base helped the Congress to win seven seats and the TDP two seats.

The CPI(M), which contested independently in 17 seats, polled a total of 66,322 votes in these constituencies. The CPI(M) marred the chances of Mahakutami in only two constituencies.

In Ibrahimpatnam, the CPI(M) polled 9,106 votes, and in Kodad, 3,381 votes. BRS won Ibrahimpatnam by 376 votes and Kodad by 756 votes. The Mahakutami could have won these two seats if the CPI(M) had joined hands with the CPI in supporting the Congress.

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Left’s static voter base

If we follow the voting pattern over the past three elections, it is significant to note that the core voter base of the CPI and CPI(M) has not undergone much change. It is more or less static.

The Left parties have a potential to influence the final outcome in around 10 constituencies in Telangana. Except for two, BRS lost eight of these constituencies in 2018 itself.

Still, it was way ahead with 88 winning candidates. Losing these seats is not going to make any material significance as any number beyond 61 is going to give them the seat of power.

Based on their performance till the end of the 2018 polls, the Left parties are in no position to claim that they can influence the electoral outcome in a significant way.

New, young voters

Will anything change in 2023? Let us go once again by numbers.

As against the overall voters of 2,80,75,912 in the 2018 polls, the number of voters has increased to 3,06,42,333 in the draft electoral rolls published for the 2023 polls. That is an increase of 25,66,421 in voter strength. Of this, nearly 4.80 lakh are in the age group of 18 to 19 years.

None of these newly-added voters of 25 lakh is expected to carry Left ideology. In a way, the overall strength of the Left parties, as seen in 2018, will not undergo any significant increase. At the most, it can be a repeat of the 2018 polls in so far as their strength is concerned.

In short, the BRS is not likely to lose any significant number of seats due to its fallout with Left parties.

The confidence exuded by the Left leadership that they can unsettle the BRS in 2023 with their electoral strength is mostly wishful thinking.