HYDERABAD: Extending its winning run in the south, the Congress on Sunday won 64 Assembly seats to form government in the BRS-dominated Telangana, with the southern solace coming in the midst of a saffron sweep of the Hindi heartland where BJP wrested two states from the grand old party and retained.
Congress had made a strong comeback in neighbouring Karnataka in May, defeating the BJP in the polls then.
The near 10 year-old rule of the Bharat Rashtra Samiti (BRS) came to an end on Sunday, even as Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao tendered resignation from his post, which was accepted by Governor Tamilisai Soundararajan.
BRS has been ruling the state since 2014, when Telangana was carved out of Andhra Pradesh.
The party, which has 101 members in the outgoing Assembly, emerged victorious in 38 and was leading in 1 seat, as per latest EC figures.
Congress won 64 of the 118 seats it contested from.
It gave one seat to CPI where the communist party emerged victorious.
AIMIM won 6 seats and was leading in one.
A Congress delegation later mer Telangana Governor to stake claim on forming government.
The Telangana Assembly has a total strength of 119.
The BRS has 101 members in the outgoing House, while Asaduddin Owaisi-led AIMIM has 7, Congress 5, BJP 3.
The All India Forward Bloc has one legislator.
There is one independent while there is one vacancy.
Anumula Revanth Reddy, who led the Congress' charge, finds himself on the brink of a potential chief ministership.
The 56 year-old leader met top police officials of the state and discussed the security arrangements for the swearing-in ceremony, likely on December 4 or 9.
He welcomed the people's mandate in favour of the national party while BRS expressed disappointment over its failure to ensure a hattrick.
"It is a people's mandate. We need not (do) a postmortem. Everything goes well, then only you will get that magic number. The simple point is that they (people) wanted to change. They wanted to defeat KCR (CM Rao). They have defeated KCR. That's all," Reddy told reporters.
Reddy said the people have decided the role of the opposition, and Congress expects the BRS's cooperation in order to fulfil the people's aspirations.
"To revive democratic values, we are expecting that the BRS will come forward," he said.
It is the Congress' responsibility to fulfil Telangana people's aspirations after forming the government in the state, he added.
BRS working president and KCR's son K T Rama Rao said the assembly poll results were "disappointing" though he was not "saddened".
"Grateful to the people of Telangana for giving @BRSparty two consecutive terms of Government. Not saddened over the result today, but surely disappointed as it was not in expected lines for us. But we will take this in our stride as a learning and will bounce back," he said.
"Congratulations to Congress party on winning the mandate. Wishing you Good Luck," the BRS leader, who won from Sircilla, further said.
Factors such as anti-incumbency, voter fatigue, and dissatisfaction among the youth contributed mainly to the poor showing of the BRS.
Despite the towering image of KCR, along with the party's extensive grassroots network and welfare programmes, the perceived inaccessibility of its leaders contributed to the growing anti-incumbency sentiments.
Six cabinet members were among the prominent BRS figures that lost.
Additionally, the opposition projection of what they called the BRS family rule in the state further exacerbated this sentiment.
The Congress had mounted a spirited election campaign with a view to unseat BRS, even as the BJP also launched a no holds-barred attack against the ruling dispensation.
The BJP may not have seen the desired results, but may take solace from the fact that it has bettered on its seats tally and the voteshare.
While it won just 1 seat in the 2018 assembly polls, the BJP added 7 more this time, and saw its voteshare expand from 7 per cent then to 13.88 per cent this time.
The party also won two by-polls earlier, giving it three members in the outgoing assembly.
BJP's K Venkata Ramana Reddy emerged as a giant killer by defeating Chief Minister and BRS supremo K Chandrasekhar Rao and Revanth Reddy in Kamareddy.
While the BJP was seen as a principal challenger to the BRS earlier, the perception changed after Congress gained momentum following the Karnataka elections in May this year.
Jubilant mood prevailed at the residence of Revanth Reddy and the party's state headquarters here.
Celebrations broke out at Gandhi Bhavan, the party office, where overjoyed workers were seen setting off crackers and raising "Jai Congress" and "Revanth Anna Zindabad" slogans.
Security was also stepped up at Revanth Reddy's residence with additional police personnel being deployed.