Huge Upsets in Telangana Lok Sabha Results: Modi Breaches KCR Fort

BJP’s vote share increased from 7% in Assembly polls of December 2018 to 19% in the Lok Sabha polls held in April.

3 min read

Less than six months ago, on 11 December 2018, the results for the Telangana Assembly elections were announced. K Chandrasekhar Rao’s Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS), which had held power in India’s youngest state since its inception in 2014, swept the elections by winning 88 of the 119 seats in the Assembly.

In second place was the Congress with 19 seats, far behind the TRS’ dominating tally of 88. Chandrababu Naidu’s Telugu Desam Party (TDP) managed to win a couple of seats. And note this as you read ahead, the BJP won only one Assembly seat. This was the last month of 2018.

Then, all 17 Lok Sabha constituencies in Telangana voted in the first phase of the general election on 11 April 2019, barely four months after having voted in the Assembly polls.

In a stunning turnaround, the BJP is set to win as many as four Lok Sabha seats, with the Congress ahead in four seats as well. TRS’ ally AIMIM has won the sole seat in the capital city of Hyderabad, with Asaduddin Owaisi retaining his constituency. This leaves the TRS with eight seats, resulting in several upsets, including the loss of KCR’s daughter K Kavitha, who was the MP from Nizamabad LS constituency.

Why is This a Surprise?

In case you’re wondering why the BJP’s performance in the Lok Sabha polls in Telangana is a surprise, here’s why.

  • The BJP improved its tally from a solitary MLA in the Assembly to four Lok Sabha MPs, a drastic rise by any standard. BJP’s vote share increased from 7% in the Assembly polls to 19% in the Lok Sabha polls.
  • Though the Congress had won 18 Assembly seats more than the BJP in 2018, the BJP won more Lok Sabha seats than the Congress in Telangana.
  • The BJP’s party infrastructure in Telangana is not strong, making the victories here double as sweet for them.
  • Lastly, and most importantly, the sharp increase in BJP’s vote share for the Lok Sabha polls strongly suggests that a lot of people (potentially as much as 12% of the total number who voted) chose a national party and a prime ministerial face in Narendra Modi over a strong regional party, TRS.

The Nizamabad Upset

In the Lok Sabha constituency of Nizamabad, the sitting TRS MP was KCR’s daughter K Kavitha. The BJP fielded Arvind Dharmapuri, son of former TRS leader D Srinivas, from the seat. Srinivas had left the TRS after being accused by Kavitha of indulging in “anti-party activities”.

Kavitha also had the added worry of the farmers in Nizamabad protesting against her for failing to deliver on certain promises. Many of the farmers even contested the election against her as an act of protest.

Yet, despite those concerns, Kavitha was expected to comfortably retain her seat, especially given that the TRS has been the overwhelmingly dominant party in the state, as witnessed in the Assembly polls in December. Since the Assembly election, as many as 10 out of the 19 Congress MLAs jumped ship and joined the TRS in the months preceding the Lok Sabha polls. This only further established the dominance of the TRS in Telangana currently.

In these circumstances, for the BJP to cause an upset by defeating someone from Telangana’s first family of politics is, indeed, quite remarkable.

In addition to Nizamabad, the BJP is also set to win in Adilabad, Karimnagar and Secunderabad, making it quite a memorable performance for the saffron party in one of the few states in which it has a limited presence.

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