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For Congress in Telangana, it's a vote on 5-month rule

By Shine Jacob
May 13, 2024 12:44 IST
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Congress hopes for a continuation of the assembly poll results last year when it stunned the BRS and rode to power in the state.

IMAGE: Telangana Chief Minister Revanth Reddy plays football along with students at Hyderabad Central University, May 13, 2024. Photograph: ANI Photo

The Telangana Pradesh Congress Committee (TPCC) office, called Gandhi Bhavan near Nampally in Hyderabad, was buzzing with vibrant party workers expressing confidence in victory in the Lok Sabha (LS) polls, riding the momentum from the recent assembly polls.

Guiding Business Standard into one of the rooms in the palatial building, adorned with colonial architecture, TPCC senior vice-president G Niranjan initiated the conversation, reflecting the same confidence, calling it a “continuation” of the assembly polls, with a victory in “12-14 seats”.


Telangana, comprising 17 LS constituencies, is voting in a single phase today. The state is witnessing a fierce three-dimensional electoral battle involving the Congress, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), and the Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS), formerly known as the Telangana Rashtra Samithi. It was only five months earlier in December 2023 that the Congress came to power, ending the 10-year rule of the K Chandrashekar Rao (KCR)-led BRS.

As the triangular political contest in Telangana intensifies, many believe that for the regional major BRS, it is a battle for survival after being routed in the assembly polls held late last year. What is haunting the party this time is the scams, the 10-year anti-incumbency factor, and family dominance in the party.

But for the Congress, it is a litmus test of its five-month rule, for the BJP it is time to prove its potential in the state.

On the campaigning front, three parties are leaving no stone unturned. While the BJP already had a slew of campaigns by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi even travelled on a state roadways bus in Greater Hyderabad to garner votes.

In the 2019 elections, BRS had got nine seats, BJP won four, Congress bagged three, and All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen one, each getting 41.7 per cent, 19.7 per cent, 29.8 per cent, and 2.8 per cent respectively. In the assembly polls, the BJP’s vote share was seen at 13.9 per cent, compared to 39.4 per cent for the Congress.

However, the BJP also expressed confidence to improve its tally this time.

“It is not only a show of strength but our results will definitely be more than the Congress. We believe that we are going to get around nine to 10 seats because of a lot of positivity for Modi and the BJP,” says Naraparaju Ramchander Rao. The BJP is showing a high-voltage battle in seats like Hyderabad, Nizamabad, Secunderabad, and Karimnagar.

On the ground too, people are gearing up for a three-dimensional fight. V Mohammad, a 55-year-old daily wager from Hyderabad, believes it is going to be a close competition.

“Earlier, it used to be only the Congress and the BRS, now we have BJP in the fray. It is going to be anybody’s battle. The Congress has a positive point as it is fresh out of a victory," he adds.

According to the BRS, in the past five years, it created 1.7 million jobs bringing in thousands of new companies to the state. However, the industry believes that more needs to be done to boost micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs).

Talking to Business Standard at Federation House in the Red Hills area of the city, R Ravi Kumar, vice-president of The Federation of Telangana Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FTCCI), reflected the same sentiment.

“It is true that Telangana has attracted huge amounts of investment, but no major players came and invested in the manufacturing sector. Major investments here happened in sectors like information technology, pharmaceutical, research and development, and defence,” Kumar said.

He also believes that the goods and services tax (GST) structure is still evolving and the compliance burden on MSMEs is more.

“Instead of having five different rates of GST for goods and services, the government should rationalise and simplify by reducing the rates to just two or three slabs. The system is still not industry-friendly and the time spent by entrepreneurs on compliance is still very high,” Kumar adds.

FTCCI adds that addressing the skill gap is crucial and the academic curriculum needs to be redesigned in line with the present-day needs of the industry.

“Although the state and central governments are talking about prioritising the MSME sector, I don’t see a huge shift towards MSMEs,” he adds.

According to political analysts, the BJP has started making inroads into parts of rural Telangana too, which is 61 per cent of the state and a stronghold of the Congress.

“The BJP will make more inroads. In the rural area, they worked to convince people that several of the BRS schemes were originally by the central government,” says Shashidhar Nanjundaiah, a political analyst from Hyderabad.

BJP’s Rao alleged that the Revanth Reddy government failed to meet its six pre-poll promises. To this allegation, Niranjan responds that free travel for women in Telangana State Road Transport Corporation buses is already done and the other promises are also in various stages of being fulfilled.

“Every government should have some breathing space. The government is also facing financial troubles because of KCR’s bad performance,” he defends.

Niranjan had his parting shot. “People in Telangana will not accept divisive politics. The Congress government in five months has done enough to win the trust of the people.”

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Shine Jacob in Hyderabad
Source: source
India Votes 2024

India Votes 2024