Telangana: I-PAC Deal With BRS on 'Hold' Due to National Ambitions

All of I-PAC's Telangana unit has been shifted to the neighbouring Andhra Pradesh, where it is working with the ruling YSR Congress Party.

Hyderabad: The impasse between the ruling Bharata Rashtra Samithi (BRS) in Telangana and the political consulting group Indian Political Action Committee (I-PAC) continues as both sides still have not reworked a fresh deal after the latter stopped all of its work last year.

I-PAC had begun working for the BRS (then Telangana Rashtra Samithi) early in 2022, but the arrangement fell through after chief minister K. Chandrashekhar Rao (KCR) announced his national ambitions by rechristening the TRS as BRS in October 2022 (the Election Commission accepted the change in December).

As it stands now, almost all of I-PAC’s Telangana unit has been shifted to the neighbouring Andhra Pradesh, where the consulting firm is working with the ruling YSR Congress Party (YSRCP), led by chief minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy. I-PAC sources confirmed that the firm is not actively working in Telangana as of now.

When contacted, BRS functionaries also confirmed this, and said that as of now there is no engagement whatsoever with I-PAC.

One of the reasons for the impasse is KCR’s national ambitions, said an I-PAC functionary.

“KCR and Prashant Kishor need to sit and discuss what to do, only then will this get sorted. The original plan was to help BRS with the state elections in 2023. KCR announced his national ambitions, which we were not really told about. However, working on a national front means it requires more resources. Moreover, Kishor also launched his own Padayatra and is busy with it,” added an I-PAC functionary.

Contacted for an official response, I-PAC said it did not want to comment on the matter.

I-PAC did some campaign work for the BRS last year during the Munugode by-poll in November 2022, which the ruling party in Telangana won. The by-election was necessitated after ex-Congress MLA Komatireddy Rajagopal Reddy defected to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). He lost his seat to the BRS candidate with a margin of over 10,000 votes.

However, since then, I-PAC ceased all of its work for the BRS, due to a lack of clarity on the arrangement. “99% of the people have been shifted from Hyderabad to Andhra. Communication is zero. It is not as if the deal is closed, but PK has to come and meet KCR like he did earlier,” the I-PAC functionary said.

It may be noted that working with I-PAC worked handsomely for the YSRCP in AP, as it won a staggering 151 out of 175 assembly seats and 23 out of 25 Lok Sabha constituencies in the 2019 general and state polls. The Chandrababu Naidu-led TDP was completely routed.

KCR managed to pull off a similar victory in the Telangana assembly polls, mainly riding high on the successes of welfare programmes like the Rythu Bandhu (input assistance for farmers) scheme, under which all farm landholders are paid Rs 5,000, once each in the Kharif and Rabi seasons. This was announced just before the 2018 state polls.

In the 2018 state elections, the BRS won 88 out of 119 assembly seats in Telangana, while the BJP could only win one. The Congress, which cobbled up an alliance with the Telugu Desam Party (TDP), Communist Party of India (CPI) and other outfits, managed to win in just 19 constituencies, while the TDP bagged two seats. The opposition was weakened further when 12 Congress MLAs and both the TDP legislators defected to the BRS.

However, in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, the BRS (then TRS) won just nine of 17 seats in the state, while the Congress and BJP won three and four respectively. The Asaduddin Owaisi-led AIMIM retained the Hyderabad seat.

“As far as Telangana is concerned, BRS is going to win and rule for another term in the present situation. I am not sure if I-PAC will have any value addition, as usually it works with regional parties that have a prospect of winning. Prashant Kishor is in the big business of electoral management. There is no question of an ego clash,” said professor. E. Venkatesu, a faculty member from the University of Hyderabad’s political science department.