GHMC: With BJP making inroads into Telangana, how TRS should correct its course
Though the TRS has emerged the single largest party in the 150-seat GHMC general body, it has been humbled by the number of votes.
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The BJP has taken the war to the gates of the Pink Fort of Telangana Rashtra Samithi supremo K Chandrashekar Rao (KCR) in the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation elections, by winning 48 municipal divisions. Though the TRS has emerged the single largest party in the 150-seat GHMC general body, it has been humbled way beyond the expectations.
Whenever KCR has talked about a non-Congress and non-BJP national alternative, the BJP worked overtime to stop him in his tracks. When KCR began working on the Federal Front and ensured that the Assembly elections were advanced so that he could focus on Lok Sabha elections, the BJP enhanced its focus on Telangana and handed a humiliating defeat to KCR’s daughter and sitting MP K Kavitha. Also, the BJP won three more seats.
However, KCR has blown the bugle against the BJP and extended support to the farmers’ bandh call. The TRS, which has opposed the Farm Bills in the Lok Sabha, has now come out in the open against the BJP government at the Centre.
BJP (L) and TRS (R) campaigning ahead of the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation elections. (Photo: PTI)
Even though the TRS could sweep the urban and rural local bodies and Zila Parishads held after 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the BJP wrested the Dubbaka Assembly seat from the TRS in a by-election last month. Though the elections held to the GHMC in quick succession, announcing several sops like free drinking water to dwellings consuming up to 20,000 litres, the TRS was made to eat the proverbial humble pie. The BJP emerged the second largest party with almost 50 seats in its kitty in the general body.
Well, this is not just a wakeup call, but a serious warning to the leadership of the TRS. It’s wrong to argue that TRS will shift its focus to rural Telangana, rather than Hyderabad, which constitutes 20 per cent of the state in terms of Assembly seats and a fourth in terms of electorate. The TRS was told loudly by the people: “Please correct your course and we will stand by you.” Because the number of seats won by the TRS indicates that the people are not dead against the party.
The scion of the Kalvakuntla family and KCR’s son, KTR, who shouldered the onus of electioneering on behalf of the TRS, has put up a brave front after the poll results were out. However, a serious introspection has already begun within the party on the reasons for the loss of face in the GHMC elections.
The BJP has amplified its campaign by stoking an intangible religious sentiment — some call it perpetration of bigotry — by alleging that the TRS is hand-in-glove with the MIM. Interestingly, the vitriolic remarks of the Telangana BJP president Bandi Sanjay about “surgical strikes” to weed out “Rohingyas and Pakistanis” from the Old City of Hyderabad have helped strengthened the MIM vote bank.
Gobbling of Congress not a reason
One argument that has come up is the emptying of the Congress and gobbling up its members creating a vacuum for the BJP to occupy. However, it may not be true. The Congress has become inherently weak and could not offer a fight to the TRS at any stage in the last six years. The BJP has drawn its strength from its recent victories.
Two non-political reasons that have dented the TRS vote share and seat share and caused a loss of face are:
1. Dharani portal, enumerating land records in rural areas, and the move to enlist non-agricultural properties in urban areas too.
2. The Rs 10,000 instant relief announced in flood-affected areas.
A few senior IAS officers confided in private conversations that the Dharani enumeration of land records was taken up in a hurried manner and the timing was inappropriate. No reform would garner popular support just before the elections. The idea of instant flood relief of Rs 10,000 per family is fundamentally wrong: how would one know who was affected and who was not? Allegations galore that large amounts were plundered and the “jealousy” among people that “my neighbour got the cash and I was denied” has had an adverse impact on the TRS’s poll prospects.
The TRS has lost a large number of seats in the flood-affected areas. The people would have bought KTR’s theory that the magnitude of the flood that struck the city was akin to the one that ravaged Hyderabad 104 years ago. But the distribution of relief was beyond the control of the government machinery.
The TRS has indeed done much more in Hyderabad than any government so far.
Having implemented many schemes, including numerous development and welfare schemes that the people could feel, and attracting investments and thereby creating wealth and jobs, the TRS set the standards high and raised the bar, making it difficult for anyone to chase it.
The TRS will have to focus on scattered development in the city. Like, they say, charity should begin at home, the course correction must start with Chief Minister KCR himself. He must break the jinx by stirring out of his palace. And, the administration must not only work but also seem to be working to instill confidence among the people.
Some reworking of economics and financial planning can set the house in order. It cannot expect a hungry horse to win the race. Stoppage of property registrations has caused disgust among more people who otherwise would have had no complaints against the state government.
If the BJP tries to intensify the religious sentiment through the inauguration of the Ram Temple before the current term, KCR, who is also religious and devout, could pay it back with in same coin by properly timing the inaugural of the prestigious Yadadri temple and still keeping all sections in good humour.