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The two Telugu states, it would appear, have abandoned the Congress that was once the most trusted party for the people of undivided Andhra Pradesh. Even in the post-Emergency elections of 1977, when the Congress faced a voter backlash across the country, Andhra Pradesh stood by the party helping it win 41 of the 42 Lok Sabha seats. But that was a long time ago.
When the Congress-led UPA-II government approved splitting the state to create Telangana, the angry people in Andhra voted in vengeance to ensure the Congress did not win a single Lok Sabha or assembly seat in the 2014 general elections. The people’s ire was born out of the fact that the party had ignored their claims over state capital Hyderabad.
The Congress leadership underestimated the deep sense of attachment to Hyderabad among coastal and Rayalaseema people. Having invested heavily in the city, they had hoped that even in case of a bifurcation, the Centre may retain it as a common capital like Chandigarh is to Punjab and Haryana. That did not happen.
Another miscalculation of the Congress before pushing through the state bifurcation bill in Parliament before 2014 was that TRS president K. Chandrasekhara Rao may honour his promise to merge his party with the Congress. That did not happen either. As a result, the Telugu Desam Party won the elections in 2014, leaving main challenger Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy’s YSRCP behind. In the triangular contest, the people of Andhra Pradesh rejected the Congress totally.
Even in Telangana, where the party had an opportunity to revive its fortunes after losing the 2014 elections to the TRS, a lack of strong and charismatic leadership has bogged down the Congress’s hopes of encashing on whatever anti-incumbency the TRS has been facing.
Unsatisfied with the massive victory of his party even after bagging 89 of the 117 assembly seats in the recent assembly elections, TRS chief KCR appears bent on decimating the Congress once again. KCR has already lured around 10 Congress MLAs to reduce the party to single digits in the assembly.
By M.S. Shanker in Hyderabad