The amazing victory of TRS candidate in Huzurnagar byelection warrants a closer examination for a meaning that lies hidden in the numbers. Because the polling took place amid an extraordinary situation, an unfavorable one for Telanagna Rashtra Samiti (TRS) and chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao.
As many as 50,000 RTC employees were on strike. All the buses had been off the road for over two weeks causing untold miseries to the people. Four employees committed suicide. All opposition parties accused chief minister KCR of humongous corruption in the proposed government moves to privatize the RTC. High Court almost passed strictures on the government for its apathy in finding a solution to the RTC strike. The statewide bandh call, given barely 24 hours before the Huzurnagar polling, was a stunning success. And the people were witness to KCR’s intransigent attitude towards striking employees.
Still, KCR thrived.
Do you remember the statement US President Donald Trump made sometime back? He once said his political base would not abandon him even if he were to choose to shoot someone on Fifth Avenue.
The same is the case with chief minister KCR as well.
The people of Huzurnagar chose to ignore all the unpleasant things happening around them. The win of TRS with a margin of 50,000 votes has proven that none of these irritants cited above were reason enough to unsettle the TRS government.
The strike, the suicides, and the High Court’s comments failed to affect the mass awareness of the voters, who did not want to send across any wrong signal that the mozo of TRS patriarch is on the wane.
KCR is a strange personality in contemporary Indian politics.
He is one of those few chief ministers who never dabble in social media in order to constantly reshape his personality to the taste of the people. He knows the alchemy of mass conversion.
His leadership in the past 15 years has worked political wonders and the people have unhesitatingly changed their attitudes to match those of their leader. This shift is clearly visible in the result of Huzurnagar.
In everyday politics, leaders tend to dovetail their personality in order to catch up with those of their voters. Here it is the other way round. In Telangana, it is the people who adjusted themselves to fit into the thinking of their leader.
One can understand if this behavioral shift occurs among the TRS cadre. What is surprising is that even the non-party voters also seem to have fallen to the magic of KCR’s leadership. When this tendency is set in motion, the people start disliking the opposition parties more than they like their leader.
This trend appears to have reached its peak in Huzurnagar and this was reflected in the stunning TRS win with a margin of 43,000 votes.
It is clear that the People in Huzurnagar have developed negative feelings for all the candidates of major parties.
Ask anybody to tell his opinion of KCR. You would rarely elicit a positive response. But, if the same person were to choose between KCR and others, he would invariably go in for KCR and defends him like a religious bigot.
In a political set up where negative partisanship is rampant people love to vote against the opposition parties. This is exactly what happened in Huzurnagar.
Political pundits, however, warn of serious consequences if the negative partisanship were to continue for long.
They say there is a danger of this dislike for the opposition parties degenerating into hatred for opposition parties. This divide has the potential to force the two sides to behave like enemies and harm the interests of the state or nation, they warn.
(This story first appeared in the News Meter)