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TRS sweeps Telangana bypoll
Bags 11 out of 12 seats, ally BJP gets one
Suresh Dharur
Tribune News Service

Hyderabad, July 30
The voters of Telangana region in Andhra Pradesh have delivered an unambiguous verdict in favour of the statehood cause.

In the byelections for 12 Assembly seats, for which results were declared today, the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS), which has been in the forefront of statehood movement, made a clean sweep, winning all 11 seats it contested while its poll ally BJP bagged another seat.

The ruling Congress and the main opposition Telugu Desam Party lost deposits in several constituencies as TRS candidates emerged victorious with huge margins in the poll battle that was widely seen as a referendum on the demand for a separate state.

The ruling party suffered huge setback with its state unit president D Srinivas tasting defeat at the hands of BJP in Nizamabad constituency, his second electoral loss in a row. Despite being projected as a potential candidate for Chief Minister’s post, Srinivas lost by over 12,000 votes.

The poll outcome has come as a big boost for the Telangana movement at a time when the Justice Srikrishna Committee, appointed by the UPA government to examine the competing demands for and against the division of the state, is in the process of eliciting public opinion from all the regions of the state.

That the by-elections were fought on a single point agenda of Telangana was clear from the massive victory margins of TRS candidates and virtual decimation of other major players. The TRS President K Chandrasekhar Rao?s nephew T Harish Rao set a new record by retaining Siddipet seat with over 95,800 vote margin.

“The people of Telangana have clearly spoken out their mind. Justice Srikrishna Committee should take note of the public mood before giving its recommendations,” the TRS chief’s son K Taraka Rama Rao, who was re-elected from Siricilla constituency, said. The TRS has already threatened to intensify the movement if the Srikrishna Committee’s report went against the interests of Telangana.

The poll outcome is likely to widen regional differences within the Congress. The pro-Telangana leaders within the ruling party will surely be emboldened by the verdict and mount pressure on the central leadership to expedite the process for formation of Telangana state.

“We must view this verdict as a referendum on Telangana and the collective wish of the people. It is time we initiate the process for bifurcation of the state,” said Madhu Yashki Goud, the Congress MP from Nizamabad and a strong votary of Telangana.

The by-elections were caused by resignations of the sitting members in protest against “unfavourable” Terms of Reference (ToR) of the Justice Srikrishna Committee. The results reflect an overwhelming “sympathy” towards the candidates who quit their seats for the Telangana cause.

The poll battle was held under the shadow of a prolonged and violent Telangana agitation, triggered largely by UPA government’s flip-flop over the statehood issue. Following hunger strike by TRS chief, the Centre had, on December 9 last year, announced initiation of the process for creation of Telangana state.

However, it soon backtracked in the face of stiff resistance from leaders across political spectrum in the other two regions—Rayalaseema and coastal Andhra. Justice Srikrishna Committee was then set up to bring down the political temperature.

The by-polls provided a chance for TRS to prove a point and to send an unmistakable message to the UPA government on Telangana issue.





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