A Telangana lens for the Congress

A Telangana lens for the Congress

Telangana, the richest of all five states electing new legislative assemblies, will vote today. At stake are the fortunes of the Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS), which has been in office since the state was formed after the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh in 2014. The party which swept the polls in the last two elections is being challenged by a resurgent Congress, which is seeking to consolidate anti-incumbency in its favour against the BRS. The BJP, seemingly relegated to third place after appearing to emerge as the primary Opposition party in the state in 2019, ran an energetic campaign in the last few days with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union home minister Amit Shah holding multiple rallies. The picture at the end of the campaign is that of intense competition, with parties raising the bar on welfare promises to scary levels. 

The BRS, riding the wave of economic growth in Hyderabad, had built a welfare empire in Telangana(PTI)

The BRS, riding the wave of economic growth in Hyderabad, had built a welfare empire in Telangana. But the Congress has promised a bigger welfare net with its poll guarantees. The BJP added a twist to the tale by promising welfare and a chief minister from the Other Backward Classes. So, welfare and caste politics became the leitmotif of the Telangana campaign, with undercurrents including the substantial Muslim vote and the divide within the Dalit community — a factor that the BJP has tried to exploit by promising to explore sub-quotas for the less privileged but numerically larger Madigas — set to influence the voting pattern.

The Telangana outcome is likely to make a major impression on the Congress. The Congress, historically, tends to lose ground when outsmarted by a regional rival, which it may reverse in Telangana. It is also in the race with the BRS and its ally, AIMIM, for the minority vote: The result will point to the mood of the Muslim street vis-à-vis the Congress. In short, the import of the Telangana polls will also be in the details of the results.

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