The graduates’ mandate
The graduates’ mandate.Elections were held to the Legislative Council from six of the ten districts of Telangana.
Though the voting was confined to registered graduates only, contending political parties turned the MLC election into a do-or-die battle and the verdict assumed political overtones. The ruling TRS had a mixed result. It retained the Nalgonda, Warangal and Khammam seat, while it failed to bag Hyderabad seat. The Council elections cannot be seen as something that reflects the pulse of the common voter. Yet, the result energises BJP and serves as a warning signal to TRS
Elections were held to the Legislative Council from six of the ten districts of Telangana. Though the voting is confined to registered graduates only, thus making it a non-representative poll at any stretch of imagination, the verdict assumed political overtones. This is because the contending political parties turned it into a do-or-die battle. The issues focused were essentially political in nature. There was no alternative as the contest was among various political parties, especially the ruling TRS and the BJP.
I won the Hyderabad, Ranga Reddy and Mahabubnagar Graduates’ constituency in 2007 as an independent candidate, defeating all the major political parties. TDP, BJP and TRS stood at second, third and fourth positions respectively in a contest that saw 56 candidates testing their fortunes.The Congress was not in the fray as per its political line of keeping aloof from Graduates and Teacher constituencies. I was re-elected in 2009 from the same seat again as an independent candidate in a more or less straight contest with BJP nominee losing the seat. Many political parties supported me as the elections came close on the heels of state Assembly elections and they were in no mood to test waters.
With my voluntary decision to stay away from elections this time, the contest thus purely proved to be a fight for political supremacy. It was thus more or less an extension of Assembly elections that saw TRS coming to power and BJP-TDP combine retaining their hold in the capital. The ruling TRS had a mixed result. It retained the Nalgonda, Warangal and Khammam seat, while it failed to bag Hyderabad seat. Biennial elections were held to the graduates and teacher constituencies four times in Telangana since the revival of the Council in 2007.
The TRS, though it was in opposition, won in most of three seats all the time. It always won the graduates seats except in Hyderabad. When judged against this electoral pattern, the success of TRS in Nalgonda seat therefore does not have much political significance. But, the reduced majority has become a talking point. The extent of voting garnered by BJP in this seat is a big morale booster for the saffron party, though the result was predictable. The BJP has no major political presence in these three districts.
The voting pattern represents the beginning of the anti-incumbency against the TRS government, though it is still at a nascent stage. The BJP could successfully channelise the political discontent against the government in its favour. This was possible for the two reasons. The Congress came into this kind of electoral fray for the first time. It neither had the plan nor an idea of how to steer through this type of elections.
Its traditional mode of campaigning failed to convince the voters, though its performance in Nalgonda was far better than in Hyderabad. The Left parties had hit a self goal here despite having a sizable strength in two of the three districts of this constituency. The Left network of unions and mass organizations is actually an ideal machinery for electioneering in such seats. But, a protracted effort to bring all the Left parties on board and absence of a popular and universally accepted candidate also adversely affected the Left fortunes.
Even the Left parties made only an insignificant effort during voter enrollment which plays an important role in this election. The TRS also did precious little as far as pre-election activities like voter enrollment. But its men and machinery and the rich resources of its candidate besides positive political climate with its government presiding over the state helped it successfully manage reap the mandate.
On the contrary, BJP has put in place an elaborate preparation both at the enrollment and campaigning stages. Despite relatively little known candidate, the party could put up an impressive show and gave TRS many an anxious moment. The situation in Hyderabad was completely different. This seat saw an independent candidate winning in both 2007 and 2009.
The outcome became unpredictable as the contest became purely political in nature unlike in the past. The BJP has many positives in this seat. The party had considerable voting in both 2007 and 2009. It lost with a smaller margin. The successive defeats of its candidate both in council and Assembly elections added some sympathy dimension too. But more than this, the fact remains that BJP with the support of TDP is a formidable force in this seat. Its strength is much more significant than TRS, which was evident in the 2014 general elections.
The BJP could rally the TDP support vote completely due to latter’s antipathy towards TRS rather than political chemistry between the two allies. The Congress was more or less decimated here thus ensuring no split in anti-TRS vote. The considerable presence of non-Telanganite voters who were hostile to TRS by the character of the party also helped the BJP. The maverick stand taken by the party on many contentious issues consolidated the anti-TRS sentiment among Seemandhra voters.
The BJP was also immensely benefited by an impressive cadre network of Sangh Parivar. The TRS organisational strength was thus no match for the impregnable network of RSS and its affiliates. From physical campaigning to use of technology, the BJP simply outsmarted TRS in every sense of electioneering. Thus despite fielding a frontline leader of Telangana movement, TRS failed to win this seat. In fact, Hyderabad has always been a BJP citadel as far as this election is concerned.
The party lost only after the revival of council in 2007. The weakness of the rival along with its own strength helped it to succeed this time. No elections are a pointer to the other. The Council elections cannot be seen as something that reflects the pulse of the common voter. An impressive show in Secunderabad Contonment by TRS, followed by its disparaging performance in Council, testify to this. However, the result energises BJP and serves as a warning signal to TRS.