Hyderabad: The undivided state of Andhra Pradesh had been a bastion of the Congress since Independence.
Two Congress Prime Ministers were elected from here, Indira Gandhi from Medak in 1980 and Narasimha Rao from Nandyal in the Rayalaseema region in1991.
But now the Congress is struggling for its existence in both Andhra Pradesh and the newly-created state of Telangana.
Till 1982, when N.T. Rama Rao launched the Telugu Desam, the Congress had no rival in the state. With the formation of the Telugu Desam, the downfall of the Congress started in AP.
After a decade in the wilderness, the Congress returned to power in 2004 under the late Y.S. Rajasekhar Reddy. In 2009 the party retained power with YSR’s welfare schemes making him immensely popular.
After his death in an airplane accident in 2009, the Congress has been unable to find such a popular leader in the region.
After the state’s bifurcation in 2014, both states were lost to the Congress like Tamil Naidu and West Bengal were.
In the 2014 Assembly elections in AP, the Congress did not open its account. In Telangana, it won 21 seats. This has come down to 19 in the recent Telangana Assembly elections.
The fact is that the Congress has no leader in TS to match Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) chief K. Chandrasekhar Rao who had fought relentlessly for a separate state. The Congress thought that in 2014 the strong Telangana sentiment had helped the TRS to win, but in 2018, it was confident it could form the government, particularly after the formation of the People’s Front, an alliance of five parties.
But, belying those expectations, the TRS swept the Assembly elections.
Worse is in store for the Congress. After March 2019, the party will have no representative in the Telangana Legislative Council. At present the Congress has 19 MLAs but it’s not known how many of them will jump ship and join the TRS in the coming days.
The main problem in Telangana is that the Congress has no charismatic leader here and it is also plagued by groupism and infighting, a Congress tradition.
There is no collective leadership and no collective responsibility in the party. There is no consensus on who should be legislative party leader or president of the state committee.
In Telangana the Congress has only one strong Opposition, the TRS. But in AP it has two strong opponents, the Telugu Desam and the YSR Congress. It is in no position to recover its lost ground in the near future, though it is trying to open its account in the Assembly in the coming Assembly elections through its alliance with the Telugu Desam.
While there is no infighting in the party in AP, people are still angry that the Congress allowed the bifurcation of the state.
In the present political scenario it will take years for the Congress to recover any of its past power in these two states. It may be that Telangana state and AP have gone the way of Tamil Nadu and West Bengal in rejecting the party....