Nervous KCR plays Telangana card again

Nervous KCR plays Telangana card again

Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao

That Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao is nervous about the prospects of his party TRS in the December 7 elections is evident from his recent utterances and his no-hold-bars attack against his one-time boss N Chandrababu Naidu by dumping the development agenda.

When Rao, the first chief minister of India's youngest state, dissolved the Telangana Assembly in September and advanced the elections by seven months, he had announced that he would go before the people with the "stupendous performance" of his government and seek mandate to rule another five years.

From September to November, much water has flown under the bridge — the built-up anger in the youth has come out, Congress and TDP have buried their hatchet and stitched up a formidable coalition and several second-rung TRS leaders have left the party to join either the Congress or TDP.

KCR boasted of winning 90 out of the total 119 Assembly seats in September, but today, political pundits say his party is scrambling to reach the magic number of 60. The man, who projected himself as a development mascot, is now resorting to political bickering by whipping up the Telangana sentiment yet again.

Except for a few references to his highly popular schemes, KCR's public rallies are devoted to bashing Naidu, who was once the boss of the TRS chief when he was in TDP till 2001, by "reminding" the people not to vote for Congress-TDP combine since Naidu will enter Telangana yet again through the "back door".

Political analyst K Nageshwar told DH that the Congress has gained significantly in Telangana since September and nobody expected the national party to leap up to this level.

"This obviously has irritated KCR and his outbursts are a result of the progress the Congress has made. He (KCR) expected the contest to be a cakewalk and it is not so. Ultimately, he has to strain his nerves," he said.

KCR attacking Naidu is likely to have a resonance in the Telangana heartland as the TRS fears consolidation of migrants from Andhra Pradesh towards Congress- TDP alliance.

"KCR's attacks on Naidu is mainly to counter or compensate for the expected losses in Hyderabad and surrounding areas to the Congress combine, but it does not mean that the TRS is losing. There is discontent, but it is prevalent only among sections of the society," Nageshwar said.

KCR is still hugely popular in rural Telangana for two reasons — his dogged fight that resulted in the creation of Telangana state in 2014 and his populist schemes such as Rythu Bandhu, under which farmers get Rs 4,000 per season for buying seeds and fertilisers; Kalyana Lakshmi that provides financial assistance for marriages of girls; and the KCR kit for wellbeing of pregnant and lactating women.

In the Telangana heartland of Warangal, Karimnagar, Nizamabad and Adilabad, KCR is still the darling of the masses though many of his MLAs face severe anti- incumbency.

The older generation, especially those above 60 years of age, still swear by KCR not just for his contributions to Telangana but also giving them a pension of Rs 1,000 each per month.

Though land-owning farmers are happy with the KCR government, the tenant farmers, who bore the brunt most of the times, are dejected since there are no schemes to make up for their losses.

Agrarian distress, resentment among youth, his style of functioning and the challenge posed by the People’s Alliance are the major challenges that KCR and TRS face this elections.

Majority of the youth who wholeheartedly supported KCR during the Telangana movement are now against him and want his government voted out.

Apart from the arithmetic, the Congress is also trying to make inroads into the Muslim vote bank, which transferred major chunk of its votes to the TRS in last elections by promising several freebies in its manifesto.

And the latest in the efforts is the appointment of former Indian skipper Mohd. Azharuddin as one of the party’s working presidents in Telangana.