THE POOR performance of the Congress in the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) elections, coming close on the heels of its defeat in the Dubbaka by-election where it came third, has triggered a war of words and a leadership tussle in Telangana Congress. Taking responsibility for the disastrous show amid a BJP surge, state Congress president N Uttam Kumar Reddy resigned on December 4 – shortly after the results were announced.
While the Congress central leadership did not attach much significance to the elections, the BJP had pulled all its might. The defeat, coming as it does in the wake of its dismal performance in Bihar and Assembly by-elections in many states, is yet another setback to the Congress which is finding itself in disarray.
The Congress won only two of the 150 GHMC seats. Party leaders were quick to point out that the Congress had won only two in 2016 too. But, many leaders said, the situation was different then. The election took place just two years after formation of a Telangana state and Hyderabad is home to a lot of “settlers” – in other words people from Andhra Pradesh – who were angry at the division of the state. The party had won 52 seats in 2009.
The outcome this time, party leaders said, was because of the BJP’s surge. “We lost votes to the BJP. And we could not win Muslim votes either because of AIMIM,” one leader said.
Signalling eruption of a factional feud, one leader told The Indian Express: “We have become a Reddy party, a party of upper castes.” The comments were aimed at Reddy, who promptly resigned. “We have to settle the leadership issue… we expected the TRS to pick up more seats…. we were expecting we will win a few more seats,” a central leader said.
Another leader said, “The BJP had aligned with the TPD last time… and they got a lot of anti-TRS votes. This time, the BJP fought alone but they clearly managed to retain those anti-TRS votes.”
What is worrying for the Congress in Telangana is that two more municipal corporations — Khamman and Warangal – will be going to polls soon. A bypoll in the Nagarjunasagar Assembly seat is also on the cards since the sitting MLA has died.
Former MP Hanumantha Rao told The Indian Express: “The party should give weaker sections importance. The majority of the population is from backward classes and SCs. They should be given leadership…”
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