This analysis will be updated with poll numbers through December 3.
Hyderabad: Telangana was the last of the five states to go to polls this election season, on November 30. The Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS), which has been in power for nearly 10 years, faced a Congress on fire, fresh from a victory in neighbouring Karnataka. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) went to hustings with its earlier momentum from its surprising excellent display in corporation polls in Hyderabad having fizzled out.
At present, Congress appears to be ahead with BRS trailing and BJP a distant third.
|Indian National Congress
|Bharat Rashtra Samithi
|Bharatiya Janata Party
|Communist Party of India
An overwhelming number of pre-poll surveys and exit polls predict a sharp rise in those preferring the Congress, so much so that the yawning gap there was between the BRS and Congress in 2018 could be bridged, and breached. Could the BJP spoil it for the Congress, by eating into the anti-BRS vote? The All India Majlis-E-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) is rattled but is expected to retain its base in the Old City of Hyderabad.
By announcing its candidates almost three months back in August, the BRS was the first to hit the campaign trail, way ahead of others. Confident of winning a third term, the party abandoned old allies and repeated almost all of its sitting MLAs, except for in seven seats. The party’s narrative this election season was around welfare schemes as well as ‘successes’ the state has seen in the power and irrigation sectors.
However, the party came under severe criticism from those who were left out of welfare schemes, unemployed youth, and disillusioned government employees. It was also criticised over the perceived vice-like grip chief minister KCR’s family holds on the levers of administration in the state and its alleged corruption. Many of the BRS MLAs were also accused of corruption in their constituencies.
The Congress party, which is now in reckoning, was completely written off just six months ago. Several factors could have contributed to the Congress’s upturn: Perceived anti-incumbency at the constituency level against BRS MLAs; energy infused by the Karnataka victory in the party leaders and cadres; the BJP’s decline following the removal of Bandi Sanjay as the Telangana unit chief; and the perception that the BRS and AIMIM are in cahoots with the BJP.
The BJP’s fortunes over the last six months have diminished drastically. The momentum it had built with victories in multiple by-polls and its stellar performance in the election to the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) had given rise to a perception that it was the principal challenger to the incumbent BRS. However, the momentum soon fizzled out. Most surveys indicate that it could trail as a distant third.
Some of the key constituencies to look out for:
Gajwel: BRS chief K. Chandrashekar Rao has held this seat since 2014. He won the seat comfortably both in 2014 and 2018 assembly elections. However, this time around he is expected to face a tough fight as his friend-turned-foe Eatala Rajendar has thrown his hat in the ring to face KCR in a direct contest.
Kamareddy: The constituency will see a clash between KCR and Congress chief Revanth Reddy. Both for KCR and Reddy, Kamareddy is the second seat that they are contesting. The presence of two ‘non-locals’ said to be working in favour of BJP’s Venkata Ramana Reddy, who is a local.
Kodangal: Congress chief Revanth Reddy has been contesting from this seat since 2009. He won the seat in 2009 and 2014 assembly elections. However, he lost it to BRS (then TRS), when Reddy accused BRS of using all its money and state power to see him defeated. The BRS has vowed to defeat Reddy on his home turf once again. He is facing incumbent Patnam Mahendar Reddy of the BRS.
Siddipet: BRS top leader T. Harish Rao has been winning this seat since 2004, breaking his own record every time in terms of winning majority. Rao will faceoff Poojala Harikrishna of the Congress this time around.
Siricilla: BRS top leader and IT minister K.T. Rama Rao will face off K.K. Mahendar Reddy of the Congress. Rao has held the seat from 2009. This time around he is expected to face a tough contest against Reddy.
Huzurabad: BJP’s Eatala Rajendar is in the fray against BRS Padi Kaushik Reddy. Rajendar had, in fact, won the seat just two years ago in a bypoll, necessitated by his ‘unceremonious’ exit from BRS and his resignation as an MLA. Despite BRS’s efforts to trounce Rajendar by allegedly using money and state power, he emerged victorious in the bypoll in November 2021.
Karimnagar: BJP’s top leader Bandi Sanjay will face BRS minister Gangula Kamalakar, who won the seat thrice in 2009, 2014, and 2018 assembly elections. Sanjay lost the seat twice in 2014 and 2018. However, he surprisingly won the Karimnagar Lok Sabha seat in 2019. This time around Sanjay is expected to give a tough fight to Kamalakar given that Sanjay’s stock has gone up significantly since 2018 elections, both as a Lok Sabha MP and as BJP former state president, who is credited for infusing new life into the party in Telangana.