Will BRS regain its foothold in Telangana after LS poll debacle?

Hyderabad Desk

Hyderabad: With the dust now settled after the Lok Sabha elections, the Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) will now focus on building its grassroots organisational strength to be ready for the local body elections, which are slated to be held this year. With the growing threat of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) eating into its space in the Lok Sabha polls, the BRS is facing an existential threat or of being marginalised as a smaller third player in the state’s politics.

This is the first time since 2014 that the BRS, headed by ex-Telangana chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao (KCR), will not be in power. Given that the party has already seen some of its legislators, both MPs and MLAs, defect to the Congress before the 2024 Lok Sabha polls, it will be pertinent for the party to rebuild its organisational strength if it wants to take on the incumbent Congress government.

In 2019, the BRS suffered a setback after it managed to win only nine out of 17 Lok Sabha seats as it was expecting a landslide given that it won 88 out of 119 Assembly seats in the 2018 state elections. However, in spite of the setback, the BRS dominated by winning 100 plus of the 139 muncipalities and corporations that went to polls in January 2020. Both the BJP and Congress were left far behind in terms of the number of wards that the BRS won then as well.

In the 2023 Telangana Assembly elections, the Congress won 64 out of 119 seats, while the BRS won 39. The BJP managed to win seven seats, the Communist Party of India (CPI) secured one, and the India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) retained its seven seats in Hyderabad. Cut to five months later in the Lok Sabha polls, the BRS drew a blank, while the Congress and managed to win eight seats each.

“We have to build our organisational strength, and just do whatever the Congress did when it was in the opposition. We will flag issues and work on other subjects as and when required. For sure other MLAs also might leave in the coming days, but that won’t make a difference to us. We have to see how things play out,” said a BRS leader when contacted.

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Though the BJP managed to get 35% of the vote share in the Lok Sabha elections, it however still does not have leaders at the grassroots and village level across Telangana. However, its latest position in the state might help capitalise and build its base. Political observers feel that if the BRS does not do something to contain the situation, it will lose space to the BJP and will eventually get marginalised as a third player.

“The only big advantage is that the BRS is attached to the Telangana sentiment and KCR had led the statehood agitation. This is what the Congress wants to remove, but this was too recent and they cannot do it so easily. So we have to see, because one can’t write-off KCR so easily. He is one of the smartest politicians in India. The local body polls will give us an indication of where things are going,” said a political analyst who did not want to be quoted.

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