Numbing shock after a heady victory

Dasu Kesava Rao

It was a double whammy for the two top political parties of the country. First Arvind Kejriwal and his fledgling Aam Admi Party (AAP) dislodged the long-entrenched Congress in Delhi in 2013 and now, gave the people a ‘Congress and BJP mukt Delhi.’

dasu kesava rao

Dasu Kesava Rao

The winner was almost as much surprised as the loser was shocked. Opinion and exit polls favoured the AAP, but none had forecast the scale of victory- an unprecedented 67 out of 70 seats.

When N.T. Rama Rao powered the Telugu Desam to a two-thirds majority (216 seats out of 294) in the AP Assembly elections in 1994, he called the verdict a ‘nissabda viplavam’ (silent revolution).  The Delhi verdict too can be termed a kind of silent revolution, considering the way the people broomed the BJP aside.

While the Congress was never in the game, the BJP had not in its wildest dreams expected a reverse as dismal as its near wash-out. It collapsed before it knew what hit it. The initials AK now represent Arvind Kejriwal’s fire power more than his name. Ups and downs are common in politics. But a humiliating setback even before the euphoria of a landslide victory dies down is rare.

The BJP’s wipe-out in Delhi poll brings to mind the stunning defeat of the Telugu Desam by the BJP in the by-elections to the Himayatnagar Assembly constituency in early 1983.

Founded on the plank of self-respect of the Telugus by NTR, the TDP had swept to power in just nine months defeating the Congress party in the Assembly elections held in January 1983.

The TDP won 202 seats, fighting the elections almost single-handed barring a minor alliance with Sanjay Vichar Manch of Maneka Gandhi, which was allotted four or five of the 294 seats. By this victory,  NTR ushered in a non-Congress era in politics.

Narayana Rao Goud, victorious TDP candidate from Himayatnagar, died following a heart attack within hours of being elected. The win might have been too much of a pleasant shock for Narayana Rao, who was a political greenhorn like most other party candidates. This necessitated a by-election in March.

The party fielded Parvathaneni Upendra, a close aide of NTR, and the BJP A. Narendra. Himayatnagar, a highly literate constituency in the heart of Hyderabad, had – and still has – a strong BJP presence. A series of decisions taken by the new Government did not go down well with the public. Unilateral reduction of the age of superannuation of the Government employees from 58 years to 55 was probably the last straw. It had antagonised not only the employees and their families, but the general public too. The voters had not taken kindly to it.

The Telugu Desam threw everything into the fight, but in vain. Narendra, popularly known as `Tiger’ for his guts to face up to the Majlis in the old city, won hands down with a majority of 28,000 plus. Upendra, new to electoral politics and an outsider, was no match to his experienced rival.

The defeat was a severe blow to NTR, but the face-saving was that the TDP won four other seats to which by-elections were held simultaneously. Something to cheer about was the victory of B. V. Mohan Reddy, NTR’s trusted astrologer, in Yemmiganur in Kurnool district. Yemmiganur, a Congress stronghold, was represented earlier by former chief minister, Kotla Vijayabhaskar Reddy.

The Congress (I) candidate, T. Lakshmikanthamma, and Janata Party’s Nayini Narasimha Reddy, presently Telangana Home Minister, who had contested the Himayatnagar by-election lost their deposit.

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