The Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) looked set to form its second successive government in Telangana with a thumping majority after taking an unassailable lead in 86 seats, according to the latest vote count Tuesday, a ringing endorsement of party chief K Chandrasekhar Rao's populist policies.
Soon after the vote count began at 8 a.m., it became clear that Rao's Telangana Rashtra Samithi party will sweep back to power with almost three-fourths majority.
Most exit polls had predicted a victory for KCR's party, the TRS, but the scale has surprised even party insiders.
Here are 5 reasons:
1. Welfare schemes: A slew of populist schemes like 'Ryuthu Bandu' investment support scheme for farmers and social security pensions paid handsome dividends to TRS chief K Chandrasekhar Rao, who led his party to a thumping victory in Telangana.
He introduced pensions, drinking water connections, 24X7 power, council flats or two-bedroom homes, free eye-checkups, the much-adored Kalyana Lakshmi /Shaadi Mubarak scheme that provided Rs. 1 lakh for a daughter's marriage. And voters saw the election as payback time.
2. Congress alliance with Chandrababu Naidu: The vote can be interpreted as an expression of Telangana's anger against the Congress alliance with the TDP.
Naidu was seen as having tried his hardest to obstruct the formation of Telangana as the country's youngest state in 2013-14. The TRS found in him a villain, and turned the campaign into a KCR vs Naidu plot.
During campaigning, KCR had repeatedly attacked TDP chief and Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu, describing him as "anti-Telangana".
"A government where Chandrababu Naidu's writ runs large should not come (to power). A government of slaves to Delhi should not come. The plight of (people) going to Vijayawada (Andhra Pradesh capital) with applications should not come", Rao had said in his last election campaign in Gajwel.
3. Too many aspirants for Chief Minister: There are at least 10 CM aspirants in Congress: TPCC president N. Uttam Kumar Reddy, Opposition Leader K. Jana Reddy, former Union minister S. Jaipal Reddy, former ministers and MLAs Komatireddy Venkat Reddy, D.K. Aruna, J. Geetha Reddy, Mallu Bhatti Vikramarka, Ponnala Lakshmaiah, former Rajya Sabha MP V. Hanumanth Rao and former TDP MLA (defected to Congress) A. Revanth Reddy.
The fact that most of the big players bit the dust is proof that the state's voters want the party to bring in fresh blood instead of peddling the same leaders.
The Congress will also need to recast itself as a party with more people willing to work the streets than leaders sitting in Gandhi Bhavan, its party headquarters in Hyderabad.
4. Negative Politics: The strategy employed by the People's Front was erroneous. Instead of explaining how its governance would differ from that of the TRS, it focused on KCR, piling on the allegations against his family.
The verdict is proof that negative politics does not work unless backed by an effective alternate template.
5. The early start: By announcing 90 per cent of his party candidates on September 6, the day he dissolved the Telangana assembly, KCR displayed confidence.
The TRS leadership jumped into campaigning, unlike the opposition that tied itself up in knots over seat-sharing till the third week of November.