Hyderabad: The year 2019 that will be dusted into history in a couple of days was a dynamically unique one for politicians across Telangana State and Andhra Pradesh. There were highs and lows, agonies and ecstasies, unexpected upheavals and some that toed the beaten path, all in all an year that was dramatic, for all practical purposes. If several big guns bit the dust, many rookies turned the tables and occupied exalted positions. Lacing up the script was the fact that it was an election year.
Andhra Pradesh faced simultaneous elections for Lok Sabha and the Legislative Assembly in April, while Telangana State’s Lok Sabha polls produced an amazing result that dented the ruling party calculations and came as a shot in the arm for Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
The biggest surprise came in Andhra Pradesh where the ruling Telugu Desam Party (TDP), was not just dethroned unceremoniously but in a manner that it had to run for cover as it suffered its worst defeat since the time NT Rama Rao (NTR) founded it and romped home with an unprecedented record.
TDP was washed away by the “YSRCP Tsunami”. The only face-saving grace was it managed to win 23 of 175 seats in the Assembly and a mere three against the 25 at stake in the Lower House.
Meanwhile, the biggest gainer was YSRCP, whose ten-year wait in the wilderness bore fruit that was exceptionally outstanding. No one could predict the massive landslide with which it shot to power.
On a personal front, it was deadly blow to TDP Chief Nara Chandrababu Naidu, a man feared and respect for being a shrewd strategist and one who was at the helm for nine years in the undivided Andhra Pradesh and another five as the first Chief Minister of the residuary State. That he was humiliated at the hustings by his bête noire, YS Jagan Mohan Reddy, was undoubtedly more painful. With many of his trusted lieutenants deserting him after the verdict, it is certain that it will take a long time for TDP to be on the comeback trail.
However, although to a lesser level, election results came as a wake-up call for the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS), which despite being in power, fared woefully bad in the Lok Sabha elections. The biggest setbacks for Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao (KCR) was the drubbing received by his daughter K Kavitha and close aide B Vinod Kumar, both of whom failed to defend their seats.
For TPCC chief N Uttam Kumar Reddy, it was a mixed bag, If he made it to the Lok Sabha from Nalgonda, his gamble to ensure an Assembly seat for his wife Padmavathi Reddy failed twice as she lost from Kodad and Huzurnagar. The Congress also failed to perform in the sarpanch, MPTC and ZPTC elections across the state. It could not win a single ZP chairperson post, a pointer to the extent of Uttam’s failure as TPCC chief.
A big indicator was the emergence of BJP, which increased its Lok Sabha tally to four, including the high-profile Nizamabad seat where Kavitha, at the receiving end of a Turmeric farmers’ backlash, was blown away by Dharmapuri Arvind, for whom it was triumphant electoral debut.
While returning to power with a thumping majority may have satisfied many, for KCR an overwhelming vote for a second successive term is seemingly not enough. Soon after his electoral sweep, the Chief Minister launched efforts to attract the opposition MLAs. So successful was KCR in this effort that both the Legislative Houses in the state, the Assembly and the Council, now have no Main Opposition.
The carvings of KCR and TRS party’s election symbol (car) on the pillars of Yadadri temple sparked protests by Hindu groups in the State. The carvings also included popular government schemes and initiatives, like ‘Haritha Haram’ and ‘Shaadi Mubarak’ apart from carvings of leaders like Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru.
The issue led to wide-spread criticism and protests forcing KCR to issue orders to remove all the carvings.