The landslide victory achieved by the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) in the just-concluded Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) elections has once again established the supremacy of its supremo and Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao in State politics. By securing nearly 100 out of the 150 seats in one of the biggest civic bodies in the country, KCR has more or less conquered the entire Telangana.
He has completely marginalised the entire Opposition in the last 19 months: neither the so-called national parties – the Congress and BJP, nor the so-called strong regional party, the TDP, could withstand the TRS political storm. These parties, which could not secure their deposits in the recent by-election to the Warangal Lok Sabha seat, failed to get even five seats in the GHMC elections which is the last nail in the opposition’s coffin.
As such, it was a complete rout for the Opposition parties. It is unlikely that they can regain strength to put up even the semblance of a fight by the next general election, because while silently working on his strategy of eliminating the Opposition, the Chief Minister is going aggressively with his development and welfare agenda even in districts. Surprisingly, many of the collectors are managing the herculean task of acquiring land from the farmers for development projects without breaking their hearts.
What is the secret of KCR’s success? There is more than one answer to this question. First, the Opposition parties are suffering from bankruptcy of leadership and lack of credibility. Take for instance, the Congress which should have been the hot favourite of the people, as it was the one which had granted Telangana State. Yet, it failed to take the message effectively to the people, who strongly believed it was the TRS which had brought Statehood to the region.
There was no effective leadership in the Telangana Congress. Those, who had some credibility in the past, have lost the same now as they indulged in power politics, rather than galvanising the cadre to take on the ruling party. The people could not find a single Congress leader who could match up to KCR. It is high time the Congress high command overhauled the party in Telangana and picked up a new generation leader who can build up the party right from scratch. Otherwise, Gandhi Bhawan will fade out in history like Sadakat Bhawan, where the great Rajendra Prasad had built up the party seven decades ago. Coming to the TDP, it has virtually turned out to be defunct in Telangana. The party, along with its ally BJP, could win 13 out of the 24 Assembly seats, besides two of the three Lok Sabha seats, in the GHMC limits in 2014, thanks to the massive support from Seemandhra settlers in Hyderabad and Secunderabad, exploiting their anti-Telangana sentiments.
However, in the last 19 months, both the parties had lost their credibility among the Seemandhra voters, who had voted en masse for the TRS in the GHMC elections. It is because the TRS government had won the confidence of ‘settlers’ by ensuring safe and secure environment and providing them umpteen opportunities to prosper further. TDP president N Chandrababu Naidu did not pay much attention to retain hold over the Seemandhra voters, as he shifted his focus to building the new AP capital of Amaravati.
On the other hand, KCR tightened his grip over his party and cadre, established a unified command structure and chalked out strategies to assert his authority politically and administratively. By roping in his son K T Rama Rao and daughter Kavitha as star campaigners in the GHMC elections, he could successfully attract youth, women, urban middle class and the working class. Both KTR and Kavitha toured every nook and corner of the city to connect to different sections. Moreover, the sops announced by him, particularly double-bedroom houses for the poor, waiver of power and water bill arrears and 24-hour power supply attracted the urban middle class.
And knowing fully well that Hyderabadis like young and energetic leaders with IT background, he projected KTR as his heir apparent. And KTR did not disappoint, as he cast his magic spell over the educated, especially IT professionals and the business class, by holding a series of live interactions. Now that he is going to be the Municipal Administration Minister, KTR took up development of Hyderabad as a global city as a challenge on the very first day of winning the GHMC elections and spelt out his vision.
Thus, KCR has neutralised everyone to establish himself as the only reality in Telangana politics. That is his real secret.