Telangana Polls: The Performance of Congress Govt in Karnataka Has Emerged as a Key Talking Point

Even though victory in Karnataka has boosted the morale of Congress cadres in Telangana, the alleged failures of the Siddaramaiah government is being used by the ruling BRS to attack the rival party.

Hyderabad: The performance and apparent failures of the Congress government in Karnataka are casting a shadow on neighbouring Telangana, where the Congress party is trying to unseat the ruling Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) in the November 30 election.

While the BRS has been referring to alleged failures of the Siddaramaiah government during the campaign trail, the Telangana Congress has been trying to showcase the “achievements” of the Congress government in Karnataka.

Congress leaders in Telangana have been waxing eloquent that the five guarantees promised to the people of Karnataka were delivered within the 100-day deadline, but the BRS and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have been refuting the Congress’s claim. The BRS has been specifically targeting Congress for its alleged inability to provide 24-hour power supply in Karnataka.

If the five guarantees promised by the Congress did not reach the people of Karnataka, party MP Manish Tewari, who was in Hyderabad on Tuesday, said it was because of the obstacles set up by the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance government.

Nonetheless, the Karnataka victory boosted the sagging morale of the Congress cadre and supporters in Telangana going by huge turnout at election rallies.

Professor K. Nageshwar, who is a former member of the legislative council, says the Karnataka victory has helped the Congress to change the negative perception people had of the party in Telangana that days of the party were over in the state. Otherwise, consecutive defeats suffered by Congress in byelections to the Assembly created a perception in the public mind that the party was no longer a force. Worse still, it won only two out of 150 divisions in the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation elections. But, there is now a feeling that Congress has revived, Nageshwar explains.

Another professor and president of Telangana Jana Samiti M. Kodandaram echoes Nageshwar’s observation, saying that the people of Telangana had lost confidence in Congress prior to the Karnataka elections. Now, they see Congress as the only alternative to ruling BRS. They want an elected government on the lines of Karnataka. The BJP, which was dethroned in Karnataka, stands no chance in the present scenario in Telangana, says Kodandaram.

The BRS has been making a frontal attack against Congress primarily on two counts that the Karnataka government has failed to deliver on its five guarantees as well as the apparent power outages in the state.

Karnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah and deputy chief minister D.K. Shivakumar. Photo: X (Twitter)/@DKShivakumar

The BRS’ friendly party in Karnataka Janata Dal (Secular) has joined the row to mount criticism against Congress. Its leader and former chief minister H. D. Kumaraswamy has appealed to the people of Telangana not to be carried away by Congress guarantees as they were an eyewash in his state.

He ridiculed chief minister Siddaramaiah and deputy chief minister D.K. Shivakumar for campaigning on behalf of Congress in “power surplus” Telangana while the supply was a meagre two hours out of the promised five hours for agriculture back home.

Both Siddaramaiah and Shivakumar urged people during their campaign in Telangana a few days ago to visit Karnataka to see for themselves the development model and five-hour power supply in the state under the new government.

Taking the offer to the next level was Telangana Congress chief A. Revanth Reddy who promised to facilitate the visit by arranging buses.

The Congress had come up with six guarantees in Telangana but they became a tool for BRS to launch the attack against the rival party. In tune with Kumaraswamy’s observation, BRS working president K. T. Rama Rao and his Cabinet colleague T. Harish Rao also said the guarantees were given a go-by in Karnataka.

The intervention of Kumaraswamy invited criticism from the Congress as it alleged the role of BRS in it.

Revanth Reddy claimed that Harish Rao brought pressure on newspapers and news channels to play up Kumaraswamy’s media conference held in Bengaluru on Sunday.

According to Reddy, it was a deliberate attempt to divert the attention of people from the Congress campaign, which has been highlighting the “failures” of the BRS government.

The BRS has repeatedly raised the critical power situation since the Congress assumed power in Karnataka to show the party in a poor light ahead of elections in Telangana. Chief minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao maintained that Congress could not win Telangana as conditions in the two states differed vastly. He pointed out the poor power position in Karnataka as against 24-hour quality supply in Telangana.

A group of farmers from Karnataka staged a demonstration expressing their ire against Congress a few days ago at Kodangal where Revanth Reddy is seeking election. Another bigger show by them is scheduled on November 22 at Hyderabad but the Election Commission has not yet given permission. The Congress claimed that the BRS was behind both the events though the permission on November 22 was sought in the name of Karnataka farmers.

Apart from outcry against guarantees and power in the public domain, there were also behind the scene political developments in Congress which reinforced the position of party leadership from Karnataka as a strong  player in the November 30 elections in Telangana. In this context, Kumaraswamy’s remark that the the party was sending crores of rupees from Karnataka to fund election in Telangana assumed significance.

Also, Revanth Reddy called on Shivakumar in Bengaluru twice, on one occasion reportedly to request him to camp in Telangana till the elections and another to pave the way for a BRS leader Tummala Nageswara Rao to join the Congress and contest from Khammam. As a poll strategist, Shivakumar was tasked with dissidence management by the Congress high command in the last Assembly elections of Telangana. He was among 60-odd leaders from Karnataka who were roped in for polls.

YSR Telangana president Sharmila Reddy also met him thrice in the last few months to discuss her association with Congress. She may be offered membership in Rajya Sabha from Karnataka as the Congress candidate, according to the political grapevine.