The outstanding performer of the so-called “semi-finals” has been the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS), which won a clear mandate and close to 75 per cent of seats. Headed by shrewd political strategist and key campaigner for Andhra bifurcation K. Chandrasekhar Rao, it made a bold gambit in advancing the maiden Assembly polls of India’s newest state. His tactical play on state sentiments and the narrative that the “visiting” Telugu Desam was an anti-Telangana party as it had opposed bifurcation, helped decimate Andhra CM N. Chandrababu Naidu’s TDP, including in its bastions Serilingampally and Kukatpally. The TRS, spearheaded by KCR, his son and nephew, also overcame the politics of polarisation brought in by the BJP’s Amit Shah and Yogi Adityanath. TRS chose to ride on the strength of all-round welfare schemes that benefited all sections of the poor, cutting across religious lines and putting paid to charges of building minority votebanks.
So comprehensive was the TRS performance that it also scored in a few Hyderabad seats of the AIMIM and BJP, parties from opposite ends of the political spectrum, both considered not unfavourable to TRS rule. The Congress strategy of forming an alliance with the TDP, TJS and CPI and favouring the TDP with 13 constituencies may have affected its prospects as it seemed to do better in its own seats in terms of voteshare. The Congress, somewhat guilty of pandering to votebank politics in a curious manifesto, can’t be too unhappy with a revival of sorts. The sweeping verdict seems to have spurred KCR’s national ambitions, but fulfilling bigger promises to farmers and tackling youth unemployment may have to be the Telangana CM’s immediate priorities.