Hyderabad: Riding on the Telangana sentiment, Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) swept the assembly by-elections in the Andhra Pradesh region, winning six seats and was leading in six other constituencies Friday.
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) retained one seat with its candidate Lakshminarayana defeating state Congress chief D. Srinivas in Nizamabad Urban segment.
It was big blow for Srinivas who was aiming to join the state cabinet and even emerge as successor to Chief Minister K. Rosaiah.
Proving that the Telangana sentiment is still strong, TRS retained Siddipet, Sirpur, Manchiryal, Dharmapuri and Chennur seats with huge majority and wrested Vemulawada seat from Telugu Desam Party (TDP).
Its leader T. Harish Rao set a record by retaining Siddipet with a margin of 95,858 votes, breaking the record of former chief minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy, who was re-elected from Pulivendula constituency in Kadapa district last year with a margin of 68,681.
The ruling Congress party and main opposition TDP were virtually wiped out in the by-elections, necessitated by the resignation of all 10 legislators of the TRS and one each of the BJP and the TDP on the issue of a separate Telangana state in February.
In a majority of the constituencies, Congress and TDP candidates lost their security deposits. Among other prominent losers were former ministers G. Vinod (Congress) and Babu Mohan (TDP). Another former minister and Congress leader Mohammed Ali Shabbir was trailing in Yellareddy constituency.
The verdict has come as a morale booster for the TRS, which has long been fighting for a separate Telangana state.
Celebrations broke out in TRS camp, which termed the results as a victory of Telangana`s "four crore" people and a defeat of "anti-Telangana forces".
During the poll campaign, TRS had targeted both Congress and TDP for betraying the cause of Telangana.
"This victory will give us new strength and vigour to fight for a separate Telangana state," said TRS leader K. Tarakarama Rao, who is leading in the Sircilla assembly constituency.
Tarakarama Rao, who is also son of TRS chief K. Chandrasekhara Rao, is confident that a separate Telangana state will become a reality in December this year when the Justice Srikrishna committee is scheduled to submit its report.
The committee, constituted by the centre in February to look into demands for and against Telangana state, is currently holding public consultations on the issue.
TRS nominees not only retained their respective seats but significantly improved their victory margins.
The Election Commission said 66.67 percent of 23.60 lakh voters in the 12 constituencies spread over five districts cast their votes in the elections held Tuesday.