BRS Banks On Anti-Congress Narrative as Oppn Gains Ground In Time For Polls

For Congress, the poll campaign established beyond doubt that its state chief A. Revanth Reddy had emerged as the most popular leader

Update: 2023-11-28 18:30 GMT
Rahul Gandhi, Priyanka Gandhi, and TPCC President Revanth Reddy capture a moment with an enthusiastic crowd on the concluding day of their campaign in Malkangiri constituency. (Image: DC)

Hyderabad: The hectic campaign for Telangana Assembly polls, which ended on Tuesday, saw the ruling Bharat Rashtra Samithi creating paranoia among the electorate on the evil effects of the Congress coming to power, harvesting anecdotes from its past governments, while its arch-rival Congress made a strong pitch for change.

Seventy-year-old BRS supremo and Chief Minister K. Chandrashekar Rao once again shouldered the responsibility of leading the campaign and, contrary to the general perception, heli-hopped to more than 90 constituencies and for many days, addressed four public meetings a day. He had the backing of his two most trusted lieutenants in ministers K.T. Rama Rao, his son, and nephew T. Harish Rao, who too went on whirlwind tours.

For Congress, the poll campaign established beyond doubt that its state chief A. Revanth Reddy had emerged as the most popular leader, perhaps after the late Chief Minister Dr Y.S. Rajashekar Reddy's era a decade-and-a-half ago. "We must admit that he has rejuvenated the party and led the campaign while all of us are confined to our respective constituencies," said a senior leader.

The slogan “Maarpu kaavali, Congress raavali” did leave a massive imprint among the electorate across the districts that the principal Opposition could escape the otherwise minute scrutiny of words and deeds of its leaders, both present and past.

The BRS had built its campaign entirely on creating the fear that the Congress would supply power only for three hours to farmers and that its leaders would encroach on land after removing the Dharani portal. Its big-ticket projects like the Kaleswaram irrigation project, Yadadri temple redevelopment, the new Secretariat and the tallest statue of Dr B.R. Ambedkar and other infra initiatives did not find much echo in the CM's campaign.

Explaining the philosophy behind the campaign at an interaction programme with the media, Rama Rao said his party had tried to reflect three emotions — pride as in the slogan “yetlunde Telangana yetlundi Telangana,” showcasing enormous development, hope reflected in “good to great” campaign focusing on the development promised by the party and of course the caution to not disrupt growth in the quest for change.

An interaction with voters in several constituencies, however, revealed that the Congress campaign, orchestrated by strategist Sunil Kanugolu, had succeeded in driving home the singular narrative that the BRS was elected twice and why not give an opportunity to the Congress this time. Secondly, the Six Guarantees and welfare initiatives targeting women and farmers helped the party establish continuity of schemes and provide a higher amount of assistance.

“As it is an established norm that any government will continue the welfare drive, in whichever form or under whatever name, the people are not giving credence to the threats of gloom and want to try out change,” said Prem Kumar, a hotel manager in Warangal.

Asked about the BRS’ warning on power supply, Deepla, a tribal farmer of Torur in the Palakurthi Assembly constituency, said: “We don't believe Congress will cut down free power to just three hours and won’t keep quiet if they make any such move after coming to power.”

With regard to the Dharani portal, the ruling party could not convince landowners that the land record management system eradicated corruption. “It shifted from one department to another,” said Vijay, a landowner in Maheshwaram on the city outskirts.

The Bharatiya Janata Party, which was almost wiped out of the race, gained some ground thanks to Prime Minister Narendra Modi taking the campaign to a new level, though it remains viewed as too little and too late. His three-day stay in the city, castigating Chandrashekar Rao in all public meetings he addressed and connecting with the people using Telugu sentences here and there, besides the first-of-its-kind roadshow by any leader in the city in this campaign, definitely raised hopes of the party over a better performance.


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