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BJP increases vote share in Telangana but fails to win even as anger brewed against KCR: How it got the chemistry wrong, not mathematics

The anger against KCR was real. So real that the voter did not mind choosing the Congress party over KCR when it was the BJP that was responsible for the increasing anti-incumbency. The chemistry that the party built in the 2019 to 2022 was mysteriously broken in 2023.

At one of the pre-2019 meetings in Hyderabad, a BJP karyakarta stood up and asked the leader presiding that meeting – All these years, we have been dancing in front of the party office to celebrate victories in other states. When will we dance at our office to celebrate our victories in our state? The hall reverberated with claps, specifically at the tone and manner in which the question was posed – a tone steeped in anguish yet passionate to put everything at stake so that he could dance for the said reason. 

For many decades leading up to the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, this dance eluded the karyakarta. Hence the anguish. They saw real hope post-2014. Hence the excitement. The passion was always there. It was the direction that they were looking for. And the karyakartas got their first opportunity to dance when the BJP won an unprecedented 4 Lok Sabha seats for the first time in Telangana. The first step towards the ultimate dream of capturing power in Telangana was made. Bandi Sanjay Kumar was made President of the party. The second step was made. The party won the all-important Dubbaka bye-poll. Third step. The party stormed the GHMC polls in an unprecedented manner. Fourth step. 

The party President started his padayatra, right from Owaisi’s bastion. He stood right before Charminar and made thousands of karyakartas chant Bharat Mata ki Jai, Vande Mataram and Jai Shree Ram – something people thought was never possible. Yeah yeah – he got “communal” and all that. But you need to know about Owaisi’s bastion to understand the monumental scale of what the karyakarta felt when Bandi Sanjay did what he did, on the day he started his padayatra. Fifth step. A big leap.  

KCR fired one of his best lieutenants – Eatata Rajendar. The BJP convinced him to join them. He did and won the all-important Huzurabad bye-election. The stride of the steps was just increasing. The BJP held its national executive in Hyderabad and then held a massive public meeting – the crowd was so huge that the Prime Minister was pleasantly surprised and patted Bandi Sanjay on his back for it. Small gesture, but gave much-needed fuel to continue the pace of the steps being taken for the ultimate goal – power in Telangana in 2023. 

A Congress MLA resigned and joined the BJP, thus prompting a bye-election. Rahul Gandhi’s famed BJ Yatra was passing through the state when this bye-election was happening. KCR sent 80 of its MLAs to this one constituency to defeat the BJP. Against such strong odds, the BJP still put up a great fight despite losing this seat. A setback but definitely not the end of the road. Mysteriously, very mysteriously, this setback became the end of the road for the BJP’s rise in the state!

The karyakarta was flabbergasted when Bandi Sanjay’s term was not extended after his 3-year term ended in March 2023. Yes, missteps were made. The mighty BJP could have easily groomed Bandi Sanjay better when certain issues were being brought to the fore. It is still an abiding mystery why the central unit of the party could not find the right resources to groom a fledgling state unit. It’s not as if this is something new for a party like the BJP. They have tremendous experience and accessibility to resources to handle situations like this. The backlash from the karyakarta at removing Bandi Sanjay from the position wasn’t anticipated by the central unit. I find it very hard to believe though – for a party like the BJP that thrives on feedback, it is tough to believe that they didn’t anticipate this. 

For a party like the BJP that did what they did in MP and Chhattisgarh, it is indeed a mystery as to why they gave up on Telangana. Yes, we can list out all the missteps the party took in the run-up to the 2023 elections. We can talk about the mathematics of the election. In fact, I started this article to explain the mathematics behind BJP’s loss. Using the below graphic, I wanted to explain how the party that took GHMC by storm in 2020 has failed woefully in 2023 in the exact same area. 

I wanted to refer to the increase in overall vote percentage for the party; the victory in the northern areas of Telangana etc. And then I read this beautiful post written by a Twitter handle – Gems of KCR. This is when it dawned upon me that the BJP lost this election because it faltered on chemistry, not on the mathematics of the election. 

The anger against KCR was real (we explained in multiple articles here on OpIndia why people are angry). So real that the voter did not mind choosing the Congress party over KCR when it was the BJP that was responsible for the increasing anti-incumbency. The chemistry that the party built in the 2019 to 2022 was mysteriously broken in 2023. This election is BJP’s loss more than the Congress’s victory (not to take away credit, but Congress’s rise only coincided with BJP’s downfall). The karyakarta who wanted to dance the ultimate step in 2023 will now have to wait till for 2028 for the next chance. 

Ayodhra Ram Mandir special coverage by OpIndia

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S. Sudhir Kumar
S. Sudhir Kumar
Obsessive eater, Compulsive sleeper, Repulsive Writer

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