After the Prajakutami faced a humiliating defeat in the recent Assembly election, Congress leader and veteran actor Vijayashanthi blamed the Telugu Desam Party for the loss of the Congress alliance with TDP president Chandrababu Naidu.
Addressing the media in Medak on Wednesday, the Congress star campaigner said that the decision to ally with TDP was not desirable and it boomeranged. In fact, Vijayashanthi had openly objected to the idea of allying with the TDP earlier. However, the party went ahead with the alliance, which was a first where two rival parties with opposing ideologies have come together.
Vijayashanthi was not the only critic of the TDP president. Even the BJP blamed Naidu for their poor performance in the elections. BJP state president K Laxman and senior BJP leader GVL Narasimha Rao were quick to slam Naidu for reinvoking the Telangana sentiment and ensuring TRS’ massive victory in the state.
In the bitterly-fought election, TRS chief K Chandrasekhar Rao had severely criticised Naidu as an ‘Andhra’ leader, who had objected to the formation of Telangana state, thereby invoking the Telangana sentiment. KCR in his ‘Praja Aashirvadha Sabha’ election campaign also alleged that Naidu was a ‘betrayer’ who hindered the development of the state by filing numerous petitions against irrigation projects, which the Telangana government had planned. He alleged that if people vote for the People’s Front, Telangana will be looted by Naidu. Despite the harsh criticism from his counterpart, the TDP president extensively campaigned in the state along with Congress president Rahul Gandhi. However, the first-of-its-kind alliance failed to woo voters and TRS emerged victorious with 88 seats out of 119 Assembly seats
While political analysts say that the BJP is making such statements only because of their grudge against Naidu, and to cover their weaknesses, they do admit that the Naidu factor ultimately worked in favour of the TRS.
Senior political analyst and professor K Nageshwar says, “The intensive campaign by Naidu in the state made it look like a fight between Naidu and KCR. The core Telangana supporters are against Naidu. It was a mistake by the alliance to allow such a campaign. Naidu’s campaign should have been low key.”
Sharing a similar opinion, Telakapalli Ravi, another political analyst says, “It was always a TRS victory, just the TDP’s alliance with Congress made the prospects of them winning even worse. Naidu is perceived as an Andhra chief minister in Telangana, and KCR with his strong campaign ensured that he is seen as an outsider, and got a huge mandate.”
In the elections, which were held on December 7, the grand alliance comprising Congress, TDP, TJS and CPI could only win 21 seats, and many senior leaders including K Jana Reddy, A Revanth Reddy, DK Aruna, Geetha Reddy, Jeevan Reddy and Ponnala Lakshmaiah lost.
However, analyst T Lakshminarayana disagrees with the theory that Naidu was the major reason for the loss of the People’s Front. “It would be politically immature and naïve to blame Naidu for the loss. TRS went for early elections after making a clear assessment that the Opposition was weak. Even the Congress and TDP knew that they were weak and hence banded together. If there was anger against Naidu which would have turned the results in favour of TRS, the percentage would be still less.”
Supporting his claim, Lakshminarayana gives an example of erstwhile Khammam district where the People’s Front won 8 out of the 10 seats. In erstwhile Khammam, TDP won 2 seats, and Congress won 6 seats, while one was independent. The TRS performed poorly and only got one seat in Khammam constituency where Puvvada Ajay Kumar defeated Nama Nageshwar, representing TDP.
“The alliance worked brilliantly, except Puvvada Ajay, none from the TRS won from there. The Opposition parties were weak, realizing this the TRS dissolved the Assembly and went for early elections. If the TRS had waited for its term to end, the Congress wave would have made it difficult for the TRS. Congress won in the three states of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, this victory would have energized the Congress,” Lakshmi Narayana added.
The TRS party had dissolved the Assembly on September 6 and went for early Assembly polls. Ravi believes that the Congress wave would have dented the opportunities of TRS, and also feels that Naidu is being made a scapegoat to conceal their weakness.