Congress pays for indecision

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The Congress’ drubbing in the bypolls could be seen as the result of the state leadership’s indecisiveness on Telangana and how best to adopt the legacy of late YSR. While this is not the first time the Congress has lost in the seven Assembly segments that went for bypolls, a lack of clarity on these two prime issues may haunt the party in future too. On the Telangana front, the Congress has, till date, failed to gauge the impact of the announcement made on December 9, 2009, about the formation of a separate state.

Keeping its stance ambiguous, the party has continuously said that statehood is an issue under active consideration, and asked people to wait for the Centre’s decision. Till then, the party says, the focus should be on development issues. However, that ambiguity scythes through the fact that Congress leaders from Telangana had not only celebrated following the December 2009 announcement, but had even canvassed in public that they alone were responsible for the green signal given to the process of carving out Telangana state. As a result of that uncertainty in taking a clear stand, the TRS and BJP made a clean sweep when bypolls in 12 Assembly segments were held within five months.

Congress leaders then remarked openly that unless the party’s central leadership understands the message delivered by the electorate and grants Telangana, it would continue to suffer. “We have made the announ-cement and then backtracked. This was understood by people and they punished us,” most Congress leaders had then stated. The results, though, were repeated in Banswada bypolls last year, and in the byelections to six Assembly seats in Telangana now.

According to political observers, the party’s state leadership should have brought pressure on the high command to say a firm yes or no on the issue. The Telugu Desam, too, having changed its stance from “we are for statehood to Telangana to we are not against separate Telangana”, suffered poll debacles in all byelections held in Telangana after 2009.

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