The results of the Dubbaka by-poll and elections to the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) have proved that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has arrived in Telangana. Out of 150 council seats, TRS won 56 and emerged as the single-largest party; and BJP stood close behind with 48 seats.
The vote share is particularly concerning as BJP drew a whopping 35.56 per cent, only 0.25 per cent behind TRS. Since it’s now obvious that there is a possible new opposition party, KCR is charting out plans for damage control before November 2023 Legislative Assembly polls.
There has been a growing anti-incumbency sentiment among the public in regards to the unfulfilled poll promises like double bedroom houses, pay revisions, and job creation.
Ever since the beginning of KCR’s second term in office, several scandals and controversies rocked the administration including and not limited to—suicides of intermediate students, Haritha Haram implementation, Konda Pochamma displacements, and most recently the proposed Land Regularization scheme.
TRS administration’s COVID-19 response has also been heavily criticized owing to the discrepancies in testing numbers.
Further criticism about the party’s functioning includes allegations of favoritism and dynasty politics. KCR himself has been drawing flak for not being available to party members and working mostly from his farmhouse.
In the last six years, TRS’s ways of dealing have eliminated any chances of a legitimate opposition party in the state. The previously strong Congress and TDP lost most of their leaders to TRS. This, coupled with the public displeasure with the TRS government, created a power vacuum and BJP has been quick to fill that space.
KCR has been on guard ever since Dubbaka by-poll loss and managed to pre-pone GHMC elections, originally slated to be held in February. Even before the elections, it was announced that KCR would be meeting with leaders from across the country in a bid to counter the NDA government at the center.
BJP left no stone unturned for their GHMC poll campaign. Some of their biggest leaders visited the city and used the anti-incumbency sentiment to spread their propaganda. This proved to be a success and jolted the TRS cadre across the state. KCR has started making amends.
On December 2, KCR attended the prayer meeting of MLA B. Ganesh Gupta’s late father in Nizamabad. The very next day he attended the funeral of the late MLA Nomula Narsimaiah in Nalgonda. He is also moving out of Pragathi Bhavan and is said to become more available to party members.
A tour has been planned in line with the inauguration of new party offices across the state, starting with Siddipet on December 10. The release of funds for Rytu Bandhu is set to resume from Dec 27. Additionally, the TRS cadre has firmly opposed the farm bills. Several protests have been organized across the state on Tuesday as part of the nationwide bandh.
With all these measures, it looks like TRS has finally woken up to the fact that BJP is going to be a real threat in the upcoming Legislative Assembly elections. But countering BJP’s agenda could be extremely difficult without making major changes to the party’s functioning and outreach. Methods employed by the administration also need revision. More transparency is the need of the hour to win back the public’s trust.