The Congress has done itself in and so did the man described as having the same DNA—Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy. Having completely messed up Andhra Pradesh in the second term, just as it did elsewhere, the Congress plan to gain in Telangana by granting a separate state even at the expense of losing in the other half—Andhra—has not worked. In Telangana, the victory for TRS was expected while a combination of factors appeared to have tilted the balance in favour of TDP’s Chandrababu Naidu in residuary state.
The TRS, which has just crossed the half-way mark, has a huge task before it as it prepares to form government. On the one hand are aspirations among the people on jobs, water for irrigation, and improvement in overall living standards and on the other, are crucial issues that need to be worked out with the Andhra government during the process of bifurcation.
This is where TRS and its chief K Chandrasekhara Rao have a critical role to play. As they transform from a regional party that fought for separation into an elected government, the need to function with a higher degree of responsibility is much more, particularly considering that in Hyderabad, with a huge population of non-Telanganites, TRS could not make an impact.
The TRS victory is largely on account of KCR’s aggressive campaign that if the new state has to develop, it would be possible only under his leadership. He was unsparing in his attack on Congress leaders, describing them as “bandicoots” who will loot if voted. People of Telangana, desperate for a state in the past and hoping for a bright future, fell for it.
It is this anti-incumbency that Jagan failed to exploit. In one sense, it was an anti-Congress and anti-Jagan vote. As Jagan continued to be mild in his attack against Sonia and Co—his release from jail coincided with the Centre’s decision to divide Andhra—the anti-Congress vote consolidated in favour of TDP. Add to this the other fears: public display of religious identity by YSRC and graft tag associated with Jagan and aides.
I still remember what a YSRC functionary told me soon after Jagan’s release last year: “If he is seen as one who kept the keys to his house with 10 Janpath, he is not going to be viewed as an alternative.” It is this that Naidu exploited. And just as he told me at the end of the campaign, people’s concerns about the future of the residuary state made them prefer the development model offered in the form of Naidu-Modi combination.
In the end, the days of political rhetoric are over. As KCR and Naidu said, it is important they work together for the two states to prosper.