BRS’ losses, Congress’ gains: How Telangana voted in 2023

While Congress won in 40 seats it had never won since the formation of Telangana, BRS’ vote share fell in 98 of the 119 seats in the Telangana 2023 Assembly elections.
Revanth Reddy and KCR
Revanth Reddy and KCRFacebook
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Soon after it became clear that Congress had won the Telangana 2023 elections with a clear majority, Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) working president KT Rama Rao said he had missed the mark. He was reacting to his own statement from the previous day, when he had shared a photograph of himself aiming a gun and claiming that the BRS would return to power for a third time. BRS suffered a dramatic loss, winning only 39 seats, down from 88 seats won in 2018.

While BRS lost 54 of the 88 seats it had won in 2018, it also managed to gain five seats it had lost in the previous election: Asifabad, Bhadrachalam, and also Sangareddy, Maheswaram, and Lal Bahadur Nagar constituencies near Hyderabad. All five seats were won by Congress in 2018, and three of the legislators – Athram Sakku from Asifabad, D Sudheer Reddy from LB Nagar, and Sabitha Indra Reddy from Maheswaram – had eventually switched to BRS, with Sabitha even going on to be a Minister. 

While the Congress has won with a comfortable margin, the vote share of BRS and Congress are nearly equal. While BRS’ vote share has gone back to nearly the same level as in 2014, when the state went to polls in undivided Andhra Pradesh but Telangana’s formation had been officially announced, and BRS, then Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS), was riding on the wave of the statehood movement’s success. Congress on the other hand has seen a big jump in its vote share. 

While BRS’ vote share went up from 34% in 2014 to 47% in 2018 and now back to 37% in 2023, Congress’ vote share, which saw only a marginal increase from 25% (2014) to 28% (2018) earlier, has now shot up to 39%. 

BRS had 51 ‘strong’ seats, those that it had won in both 2014 and 2018. In 2023, it lost 33 of them, retaining only 18. Among these retained seats are those in and around Hyderabad such as Secunderabad, Malkajgiri, Patancheru, and Medchal, as well as the Kalvakuntla family’s strongholds such as Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao’s constituency Gajwel, T Harish Rao’s constituency Siddipet, and KTR’s constituency Sircilla. 

Congress, on the other hand, won 40 seats that it had never won since the state’s formation in 2014. While these constituencies are scattered throughout the state, they mainly lie outside Hyderabad and surrounding areas. In the run-up to the November 30 election, anti-incumbency in rural areas emerged as a major phenomenon as pointed out by political analysts and journalists. 

BRS’ statewide vote share has fallen by around 10 percentage points since 2018. Across constituencies too, the party saw a fall in its vote share in 98 seats. Its vote share remained the same or went up in only 21 constituencies. 

Congress, of course, has managed to increase its vote share in most constituencies. Overall, its vote share has become consistently high in the eastern part of the state – in constituencies like Kodad, Yellandu, Nakrekal, Pinapaka and Mulugu. In 2018, Congress had contested only 94 seats, as part of an alliance with Telugu Desam Party (TDP), Telangana Jana Samithi (TJS), and CPI. This time, Congress contested 118 out of 119 seats. It supported the Communist Party of India (CPI) state secretary Kunamneni Sambasiva Rao in Kothagudem, who won the seat with a comfortable margin. 

Among the 30 seats that the BRS won, Siddipet was retained by outgoing Minister Harish Rao with the highest margin of 78%.  In 14 seats, BRS won with a margin of around 30% or more, including Secunderabad, Sanathnagar, Kukatpalle, Musheerabad, Quthbullapur, Malkajgiri, Uppal, Amberpet, Khairatabad, Serilingampally and Secunderabad Cantonment in and around Hyderabad. KTR in Sircilla (33%) and KCR in Gajwel (40%) also won with comfortable margins. 

Of the 15 cabinet ministers who all re-contested the election from their own seats, six of them lost – Allola Indrakaran Reddy in Nirmal, Errabelli Dayakar Rao in Palakurthi, Puvvada Ajay Kumar in Khammam, Koppula Eshwar in Dharmapuri, Singireddy Niranjan Reddy in Wanaparthy, and V Srinivas Goud in Mahbubnagar. KCR himself also lost in Kamareddy while retaining Gajwel. 

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