Telangana seeks change? South First-Peoples Pulse Pre-poll Survey predicts edge to Congress

The survey for Telangana Assembly polls 2023 indicates an over four percent vote share gap between BRS and Congress.

BySouth First Desk

Published Nov 26, 2023 | 1:30 PMUpdated Nov 26, 2023 | 7:16 PM

Telangana seeks change? South First-Peoples Pulse Pre-poll Survey predicts edge to Congress

  • South FirstPeoples Pulse Pre-poll Survey indicates Congress is ahead in the Telangana Assembly election.
  • The survey suggests the Congress is poised to emerge as the single-largest party.
  • Polling for Telangana Assembly elections is scheduled to take place on 30 November. 
  • South FirstPeoples Pulse Pre-poll Survey, which had rightly predicted Congress’ victory in Karnataka Assembly elections, indicates that Congress has an edge for the first time in India’s youngest state of Telangana. 
  • South FirstPeoples Pulse Pre-poll Survey seats share projections for Telangana’s 119-seat Assembly shows Congress has an edge in 57 to 62 seats. BRS is projected to have a lead in 41 to 46 seats. BJP is projected to have an edge in 3 to 6 seats and AIMIM in 6 to 7 seats. Others are likely to win 1-2 seats. 
  • South FirstPeoples Pulse Pre-poll Survey shows a vote share gap — over four percent — between the BRS and the Congress. 
  • Congress is projected to get 42.5 percent, while the ruling BRS is projected to get 37.6 percent. 
  • The key factors influencing voters’ preferences seem to be implementation failure of two flagship schemes of BRS government — Dalit Bandhu and double-bedroom houses — apart from a sense of fatigue.

Here’s the detailed story:

Ten years after Telangana came into existence, the Congress is poised to emerge as the single-largest party in India’s youngest state, according to the South FirstPeoples Pulse Pre-poll Survey.

In all these years, the Congress cried itself hoarse seeking credit for the formation of the state, but to no avail.

Today, who powered the statehood into reality is not an emotive electoral issue, and the Congress is in the lead, with the voter seemingly in a mood to change the dispensation that governs Telangana — the BRS, led by Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao.

The dominant narrative across the state appears to be: “We have given the BRS two terms, now it’s time for a change.”

Broadly, the South FirstPeoples Pulse Pre-Poll Survey for Telangana Assembly Elections 2023 has revealed that there is a lot of discontent among the people towards the ruling BRS, with many complaining that the government has not delivered what it promised.

Across the state, this discontent seems to be primarily focused on the poor implementation of two schemes: The Dalit Bandhu that promised ₹10 lakh to deserving members of the community to set up their own businesses, and the two-bedroom free houses.

Ground Report: In the tribal heartland of Mulugu constituency — a bridge too far

South First-Peoples Pulse Survey: Seat/Vote projections

The Congress is in the lead in 57 to 62 seats, while the BRS is seen leading in 41-46 seats, according to the survey. The BJP is likely to get three to six seats, while the AIMIM could get six to seven. Others will win one to two seats.

Of the state’s 33 districts, the Congress, in terms of vote share, is leading in 21, the BRS in 11, and the BJP in one.

The Congress vote share is expected to be at 42.5 percent, while the ruling BRS is projected to get 37.6 percent. The difference in the vote share between the Congress and BRS is 4.9 percentage points.

In 2018, the BRS (then TRS) vote share was at 47.4 percent and the Congress was at 28.7 percent. The BRS has dropped nearly 10 percentage points of its vote since then, and the Congress has collected that and mopped up another four percentage points.

The BJP, which polled 7.1 percent of the vote in 2018, will garner 13.2 percent, the projections suggest.

The South FirstPeoples Pulse Pre-poll Survey was conducted from 15 November to 25 November, immediately after the withdrawal of nominations.

On the Road: Reading the mood of Dalits, Muslims — will they hurt the BRS?

Factors influencing voting preferences

Interestingly, there is a clear variance in gender behaviour. Women, particularly homemakers, are backing the BRS. Male voters are largely backing the Congress.

The disillusionment among youth (age group of 20-35 years) is palpable, and they are overwhelmingly behind the Congress, given the perception that the BRS has failed to fill up vacant government jobs right through its two tenures.

Recruitment to government jobs was one of the major planks of the separate statehood movement.

A large section of the educated-unemployed youth appear angry with the performance of the BRS government in this area and they may influence other votes in their households.

The urban-rural variance is even more stark. In the urban areas, the BRS is leading over the Congress by 2.5 percentage points. In the rural areas, the Congress is leading the BRS by over nine percentage points.

Among the farmers, the Congress is ahead of the BRS by nearly seven percent. Recently, the Election Commission of India (ECI) allowed the government to release the Rythu Bandhu funds to the farmers.

It remains to be seen if this works to reduce the gap between the two parties.

Muslims form 13 percent of the electorate and, in several constituencies, they decide the electoral outcome.

There are 24 Assembly constituencies with more than 15 percent Muslim electorate. According to the South FirstPeoples Pulse Pre-poll Survey, the BRS is still ahead when it comes to the minorities, and holds a very strong lead of more than 15 percent over the Congress.

This is interesting on two counts. One, the Congress has been going hammer and tongs that the BRS is hand in glove with the BJP on various issues. Two, the immense word-of-mouth publicity in favour of the Congress has not dented the minorities’ faith in the BRS, at least as yet.

The Congress is leading strongly among the Scheduled Castes (SCs) with 13 percent and Scheduled Tribes (STs) by 20 percent. The reason for this could be that the government has not implemented Dalit Bandhu fully, and does not issue pattas for podu lands effectively.

The promise made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Hyderabad that the classification of Dalits would be done at the earliest has seemingly had little impact.

When it comes to Backward Classes (BCs), both parties stand equally. The BJP’s promise of a BC chief minister if it comes to power has apparently meant next to nothing to these communities.

Ground Report: ‘Broken’ promises — the many stories of KCR’s Gajwel

Anti-incumbency, yes; KCR as CM, also yes

A majority of the sitting MLAs of the BRS are facing stiff anti-incumbency in their respective constituencies.

Chief Minister KCR might regret his decision to re-nominate at least a third of his MLAs.

In the 2018 Telangana Assembly elections, 14 of 63 sitting BRS MLAs, including four Cabinet ministers and the Assembly Speaker, had lost their seats. Five candidates, who were given tickets replacing the sitting MLAs, had won the elections. In the Congress party, only two sitting MLAs had won their seats, while 10 other sitting MLAs had lost.

When respondents were asked who their preferred candidate for chief minister is, KCR stood head and shoulders above every rival by an impressive 20 percentage points. However, when asked if they would give the BRS one more chance, 47 percent of the respondents said No, while 41 percent said Yes, around 12 percent said Can’t say.

The major election issues are unemployment, price rise, minimum support price (MSP) for crops, and corruption.

When asked which party is better for the development of Telangana, 41 percent said it was the Congress, 38 percent said it was the BRS, and 11 percent said it was the BJP.

The BJP appears to be taking one step forward and two steps backwards in Telangana, despite the fact that the top leadership of the party, including Prime Minister Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah, has been working out strategies in Telangana.

The AIMIM may well win its current seven seats again. The communist parties, the CPI and CPI(M), are virtually fighting for their existence in Telangana.

The Congress enjoys an edge in all parameters of the pre-poll survey. Yet, the survey found that most voters can’t fully recall the main poll plank of the Congress: The six guarantees.

With Telangana in the midst of an exciting election, what seems to be on the cards is a vote against the BRS, with the Congress being the beneficiary.

On the Road: Telangana dithers between yearning for change, fear of instability


The survey comprised two components. The first was a structured questionnaire with face-to-face interviews with a secret ballot, and the second was computer-assisted telephonic interviews (CATI). The total sample size for both components was 15,000.

Peoples Pulse conducted the pre-poll survey with the structured questionnaire and face-to-face interviews in 51 Assembly segments selected on the basis of Probability Proportional Methodology (PPM).

Four polling stations were selected from each Assembly segment using the Systematic Random Sampling. In each polling station, 20-25 randomly selected samples from the electoral rolls were surveyed.

A total of 4,500 samples were chosen such that the sample reflected the situation on the ground in terms of caste, religion, and age. Gender was given equal representation.

Peoples Pulse, a Hyderabad-based political research organisation, conducted the survey for South First, a digital news platform, on the ground for both the components. The technical support for CATI was provided by Codemo.

An Exit Poll would be conducted by South First-Peoples Pulse on 30 November. The results would be released at 7.30 pm.

The Peoples Pulse team comprised Bathula Suresh Babu, Gurram Muralikrishna, Sambasiva Rao, Muralikrishna Sharma, A Naga Raju, J Praveen, Ramchander, J Jagadeshwar, Sridhar, Pradeep, and Prashanth. They executed the field work, data analysis, and report writing.