Hyderabad, May 16: A few months ago, the Congress had boasted about being the “creator” of Telangana and “saviour” of Seemandhra. Late this evening, the “saviour” was facing the prospect of drawing a blank in Seemandhra.
The “creator” fared a little better in Telangana and was vying with the Telugu Desam Party-BJP to finish a poor second to runaway winner Telangana Rashtra Samiti.
Both the defeated Congress candidates in Seemandhra and those who quit the party before the polls blamed the Congress’s debacle on the high command’s decision to divide the state, which it had ruled the past 10 years.
“Sonia Gandhi’s tactic of dividing Andhra Pradesh has backfired and left the party in ruins in Seemandhra,” said former Congress chief minister Kiran Kumar Reddy who had fought the party leadership tooth and nail before putting in his papers.
Former Union ministers D. Purandeswari and Kavuri Sambashiva Rao, who had joined the BJP in protest at the grant of statehood to Telangana, appeared to be heaving a sigh of relief.
“Bifurcation of the state was Sonia’s biggest folly. We are glad we are not in the Congress now,” Rao said.
The Congress had pretty much given up on Seemandhra after the bifurcation decision but the reverses in Telangana, where it had hoped to gain but watched the Telangana Rashtra Samiti hijack the credit for statehood, would come as a shock.
“What did we do wrong? We only fulfilled the 60- year-old wishes of Telangana’s people,” outgoing Union minister Jairam Ramesh had lamented yesterday, referring to the dire exit poll predictions.
“We have paid a heavy price for bifurcation. But I agree with the high command that the formation of a Telangana state could not have been avoided any longer,” Andhra Pradesh Congress president Raghuveera Reddy had said recently.
Leaders such as previous state Congress chief Botsa Satyanarayana and deputy chief minister Damodar Rajnarasimha have bit the dust.
“At least they (Sonia and Rahul) have owned responsibility for the debacle now,” said Seemandhra Congress leader and outgoing UPA minister M. Pallam Raju, who lost his parliament seat.
In a united Andhra Pradesh, the Congress had won 33 of the 42 Lok Sabha seats in 2009 along with 156 of the 294 Assembly constituencies. It had bagged 38 per cent of the popular vote while the Praja Rajyam Party of actor Chiranjeevi, which has since merged with the Congress, notched 18 per cent.
In Telangana today, the Congress clocked 31 per cent of the votes and, by late evening, had won 16 of the 119 Assembly seats and was leading in four.
In Seemandhra, which has 25 Lok Sabha and 175 Assembly seats, the Congress vote share was just 11 per cent --- less than a fifth of the 56 per cent it had jointly garnered with the Praja Rajyam last time.