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Telangana Election Result: What Went Wrong for KCR & BRS in Telangana? 5 Factors

What explains this sudden shift of power from the BRS to the Congress?

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K Chandrasekhar Rao's Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) suffered a massive setback in the Telangana elections, with the Congress conquering a good chunk of their existing constituencies in the 119-seat Assembly.

As per Election Commission of India figures at the time of writing this article, the Congress won 59 seats and is leading in 5, whereas the BRS secured just 33 seats while leading in 9. The BJP upped its tally to eight seats, and the AIMIM – the BRS' poll ally – has retained its hold over Hyderabad's Old City.

Taking to Twitter, BRS working president KT Rama Rao, who retained his seat in Sircilla, said:

What explains this sudden shift of power from the BRS to the Congress?

The blow was doubly painful for KCR with the BJP wresting control over his 'safe seat' of Kamareddy.

What explains this shift of power from the BRS to the Congress?

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1. Anti-Incumbency & Voter Fatigue

KCR was looking to get a third term in Telangana after two successive wins in 2014 and 2018 when the 'Telangana sentiment' was still high. His Telangana Rashtra Samithi (now BRS) was largely credited for the formation of the state.

But a third term is a hard win for any CM, especially in south India, owing to natural anti-incumbency and voter fatigue. While the BRS had brought in flagship schemes for people of all age groups, some welfare initiatives like Dalit Bandhu and double-bedroom houses became points of contention this election season.

Many beneficiaries alleged these schemes were accessible only to those who were close to the ruling party. This was coupled with issues of unemployment among youth, paper leaks, and cancellation of recruitment exams.

Other voters, as per surveys, were inclined to give another chance to the Congress, which was making a steady comeback in the state after its win in Karnataka.

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2. Anger Against MLAs

The anti-incumbency against KCR may not have been rooted in bad governance but in people's anger against BRS MLAs. There were allegations of corruption against several MLAs, coupled with claims of their inaccessibility.

Despite this, KCR replaced only a handful of sitting MLAs in the party's candidate list this time, which is a move that may have cost him the state. 

In its campaigns, the Congress made it a point to focus on the alleged "arrogance" of KCR and his MLAs, which may have struck a chord with the people of Telangana – who had led the movement for separate statehood against the "arrogance" of Andhra Pradesh leaders. 

KCR has also been accused of being inaccessible to not only the people, but also his own partyleaders and MLAs.

The Congress' manifesto even promised a Praja Darbar to counter this.

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3. Engineered Defections From Congress

The BRS (the TRS) in 2019 had engineered the defections of 12 Congress MLAs from especially the Khammam region, further bringing down the Congress' MLA tally from 18 to 6. 

But this may have backfired for the party as 11 of these 12 MLAs contested this time – and only two of them, Sabitha Indra Reddy and Sudheer Reddy, have managed to retain the seats.

All these seats en masse went to the Congress party yet again.

4. Allegations of BJP-BRS Nexus

There were various conspiracy theories that the BRS had a tie-up with the BJP, especially after BJP MP Bandi Sanjay Kumar – a vocal critic of the BRS and KCR – was removed from the party's state chief position and was replaced by G Kishan Reddy.

There were also allegations that the BJP at the Centre went easy on KCR's daughter K Kavitha in the Delhi liquor scam case, while leaders from other opposition parties were jailed. 

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi had called the BRS, 'BJP Rishtedar Samithi', during his campaigns, while also accusing the AIMIM of supporting the party. This narrative may have helped consolidate the anti-BJP votes in the Congress' favour and not the BRS'.

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5. Telangana Sentiment

The 'Telangana sentiment' that helped KCR for two terms may have taken a backseat this time owing to his national ambitions. The party, looking to make an entry in Maharashtra, had changed its name of Telangana Rashtra Samithi to Bharat Rashtra Samithi last year.

One of the reasons why KCR contested in Kamareddy – a seat that he lost to the BJP candidate Venkata Ramana Reddy – was to expand his prospects in the north Telangana region, which borders Maharashtra.

The Congress, meanwhile, saw an opportunity and tried to evoke sympathy for the Congress leadership for having created Telangana, implying that KCR should not be the only person to be credited for the creation of the state.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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