Election fatigue grips Andhra voters

A predictable drama with a familiar script is what the coming by-elections have come to mean to the common man in Andhra Pradesh.

A sense of “poll fatigue” appears to have gripped the voters in the volatile Telangana region which has been witnessing frequent elections for the last few years. Again election time begins in the backward region. By-elections are scheduled to be held on March 18 for six Assembly seats in Telangana and Kovvur in the coastal Andhra region.

The by-elections in Telangana were necessitated due to the resignation of the legislators for the statehood cause, a tactic that has become a trend among the elected representatives.

For the last six years, the Telangana region has witnessed by-elections almost every year; and all of them were fought on a single-point agenda—the demand for a separate state.

Though the outcome of all the by-elections had reflected the popular sentiment in favour of the statehood cause, there seems to be a sense of weariness and indifference among voters this time.

The political observers attribute this mood to the “inordinate delay” on the part of the United Progressive Alliance government to take a decision on the Telangana issue.

“How many times do you expect the people of Telangana to repeat their demand for separate state? They have already given their verdict and it is for the government to act on it,” said political analyst K Nageswar.

The trend of elected representatives quitting their posts as a pressure tactic started in 2006 when Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) President K Chandrasekhara Rao resigned from his Karimnagar Lok Sabha seat and won the by-elections to establish the strong Telangana sentiment.

Again in 2008, there were by-elections to 16 Assembly seats and four Lok Sabha seats in the Telangana region, after the TRS members resigned en masse demanding a separate state.

However, the TRS could retain only seven Assembly and two Lok Sabha seats as the people were fed up with repeated resignations.

Two years later, it was a complete transformation of the mood as TRS candidates won the by-elections to 12 Assembly constituencies in July 2010 with huge margins.

In a poll battle that was widely seen as a referendum on the Telangana demand, the TRS and its ally, Bharatiya Janata Party, swept the polls while the ruling Congress and the main opposition Telugu Desam Party (TDP) lost deposits in all the constituencies.

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