How did KCR make a comeback after the Dubbak-GHMC debacle?
Not just the opposition, even some of the political commentators have described the Dubbak-GHMC debacle as the beginning of the fall of the KCR regime. The TRS lost its seat to the BJP in Dubbak and witnessed a massive erosion of its tally giving the saffron party a double advantage. Thus, the BJP has not only asserted that it has emerged as the ruling party’s alternative to relegating Congress to the rear, but it is emerging as a real challenger for TRS. The BJP’s remarkable performance in winning four seats and polling around 20% of the vote in the 2019 Lok Sabha election gave credence to such claims. But politics known for its dynamic character quickly underwent a significant change.
The TRS wrested the MLC seat in Hyderabad from the BJP and pushed the party to the fourth position of the Nalgonda graduate seat. The BJP was the main challenger to the Pink Party in 2015. The TRS defeated Congress veteran K. Jana Reddy in Nagarjunasagar where the BJP lost its deposit. The TRS also recorded a categorical victory in municipal polls, pushing the opposition to the sidelines. The winning streak of the post-Dubbak-GHMC TRS fiasco raises the political question of how KCR could make a comeback.
The opposition can simply attribute the KCR’s spectacular successes in the polls to its wise handling of polls and its euphemism for the excessive use of money and political power. But the management of polls, political strategies, the abusive use of official mechanisms will be present at each election. Why do the results vary? It is precisely the political mood that prevails at any given moment that defines the electoral mandate.
There is no universal discontent with KCR among the population. The political situation is not ripe enough to dislodge the TRS regime. However, sporadic discontent exists between certain sections of society and certain specific issues. So the people of Telangana want to hit KCR, but not hurt him. The urge to give KCR shock therapy was sated by voters who taught Dubbak and GHMC a lesson in TRS.
Such a political environment gave KCR the opportunity to make a mid-term correction. Realizing the enormous disenchantment of employees who constitute a vocal segment of the electorate, KCR intelligently addressed the PRC and related issues on the eve of the MLC elections. The ruling party has benefited enormously from this. The state government has announced the filling of 50,000 government posts in an attempt to appease the unemployed. Farmers’ anger over the unpaid price of a fine variety of paddy (sanna rakalu) was specific to the problem. These measures, perhaps, gave the impression to voters that KCR is ready to make amends despite its stubbornness.
Meanwhile, TRS benefits from the TINA factor (There is no alternative). The opposition has yet to present a leader who can be seen as an alternative to the KCR. In addition, the failure of Congress to revive and the anti-history against Modi over rising prices, mismanagement of COVID and the economy have also made TRS stronger.
Politics is therefore not static. A good appreciation of the political mood is essential for the opposition to succeed in challenging KCR. Political pride will not help.
-By Professor K Nageshwar
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