ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Decrypting the Telangana Assembly Mandate, 2023

A distinctive feature of the 2023 polls in Telangana was that the issue of development virtually became a non-issue. The pre-poll surveys also captured the conflicting sentiments among the electorate—a deep sense of anti-incumbency despite the visible signs of “development.” The opposition succeeded in escalating the anti-incumbency through a narrative focusing on the failings of the incumbent regime rather than on development. The poll verdict also shows that electoral gains from welfare transfers would diminish in the long run if development interventions are not aligned with the people’s priorities.

The authors are grateful to an anonymous referee for their valuable comments.

The outcome of the 2023 Telangana assembly elections has thrown up certain unique trends in India’s democratic landscape. Typically, state elections revolve around dominant themes such as development and performance of the incumbent government and, of late, the range of welfare schemes implemented by the ruling regime. By stark contrast, a distinctive feature of the 2023 Telangana assembly polls was that the issue of development virtually became a non-issue, nor was it the main plank of the electoral campaign of the opposition parties. During the run-up to the polls, it was widely perceived that the ruling BRS (Bharat Rashtra Samithi) party (earlier known as the TRS—[Telangana Rashtra Samithi]) was confronted with a groundswell of anti-incumbency. Drawing on empirical evidence, the core factors that shaped the popular disaffection with the incumbent BRS government are analysed in this article. It draws on the findings of two surveys: (i) the two waves of Telangana pre-poll surveys carried out by Lokniti– Centre for the Study of Deve­lop­ing Societies (CSDS) in 2023 and 2018; and (ii) the detailed interactions with a cross-section of the electorate carried out in all 33 districts of the state over a period of five months prior to the assembly elections by a team of senior researchers from the Division for Studies in Social Inclusion (DSSI) of the Centre for Economic and Social Studies (CESS), Hyderabad.

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Published On : 15th Mar, 2024

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