By Mohammed Shafeeq
The Telanga Rashtra Samithi (TRS) was widely expected to unfurl its flag on the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC). But the scale of victory it scored was something which even its leaders had not anticipated.
Winning 99 seats in the 150-member municipal body was no mean achievement for a party which had no presence in the previous body. In 2009, it had stayed away from the elections because it felt it did not have a mass base.
The performance was also unprecedented given the fact that no party in the past could get a majority on its own in the previous municipal bodies in Hyderabad and in doing so, TRS virtually wiped out the TDP-BJP alliance and the Congress.
In the 2014 general election, despite getting a majority in the Telanga assembly and forming the first government in the new state of Telanga, TRS could win only three out of 24 assembly seats under GHMC limits.
Ever since its formation in 2001 to revive the demand for a separate Telanga state, TRS was considered weak in Hyderabad because of considerable population from Seemandhra or Andhra Pradesh settled here.
Seemandhra people were opposed to the bifurcation of the state. The Telanga slogan had also failed to fire the imagition of urban voters in the 2004 and 2009 elections.
Thus it was not surprising that the TDP-BJP alliance had bagged 14 out of 24 assembly seats in the 2014 polls.
Not disappointed over this, but upbeat over achieving its main goal of a separate state and forming its first government, TRS adopted a meticulous strategy to win the last bastion - Hyderabad. It successfully wooed five out of nine MLAs of TDP, strengthening the party base.
While dealing a big blow to its number one political rival TDP, TRS also softened its stand visa-a-vis people from Seemandhra, often described as ‘settlers’. TRS leaders, especially Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao, who used to target Seemandhra people for ‘usurping’ resources of Telanga, buried the bitterness of the movement after achieving his goal.
With Seemandhra people accounting for more than 25 percent of 7.4 million voters in GHMC, TRS also reached out to them and dispelled all apprehensions they had about their safety in Hyderabad.
With not a single incident of any attack on Seemandhra people in the last 20 months, they had reposed their faith in the ruling party, say political observers.
As Hyderabad is the engine of Telanga’s economic growth, TRS was more careful about the impact any incident would have on the city’s brand image. The end of uncertainty, prevailing in this technology hub since 2009, also revived the city’s growth.
The TRS government also focussed on further attracting investments into information technology, pharma and other sectors based in Hyderabad.
Information Technology Minister K. Tarakarama Rao, who is son of the chief minister, aggressively marketed Hyderabad and convinced IT majors to expand their operations. The articulate and affable minister charmed the IT sector and launched some initiatives like T Hub, an incubator for technology startups.
It was not surprising that KCR gave his son the charge of the party’s campaign for the crucial polls. As the results show, KTR, seen as heir-apparent in the party circles, fulfilled this task effectively.
Led by KTR, several ministers visited every part of the city for the aggressive campaign and promised to turn Hyderabad into a global city, with best infrastructure and civic amenities.
The government also laid special emphasis on the law and order situation by providing more vehicles and equipment for the police. The police constituted several teams for protection of women and installed CCTV cameras to improve policing.
Various welfare and development schemes launched by TRS since June 2014 appear to have turned the tide for TRS. The social security pensions for aged, widows and physically handicapped, scholarships for poor students, 6 kg rice per person per month at one rupee a kg, schemes for fincial assistance for marriage of girls belonging to poor families all helped in winning it the votes.
However, it was the scheme for construction of double bed room houses for poor, regularisation of land, waiver of property tax, electricity and drinking water arrears of poor that appear to have made its impact.
The government also succeeded in overcoming electricity shortage and improved the supply. It also initiated efforts to solve the drinking water problem in the city by diverting more water from the Godavari river.