In Telangana, polls a prelude to uncertain political future?

In Telangana, polls a prelude to uncertain political future?

In Telangana, polls a prelude to uncertain political future?

By the midnight of May 1, the 29th state of the country will have come into existence. Along with it will usher in a new government to fulfil the aspirations of 3.22 crore people of the new state of Telangana which will be carved out of Andhra Pradesh (AP.)

The plan looks absolutely fine from an administrator’s point of view as the governor and his advisors of the combined state have everything sorted out and the staff and secretariat are being divided between Telangana and residual AP.

But the political scene is still hazy in Telangana.

In all, 17 Lok Sabha constituencies and 119 Assembly seats are going to polls on April 30.

Main contenders in race are the Congress that has granted Telangana, Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) that fought for it, the BJP that stood by the new state demand and the Telugu Desam Party that had no objection for it.

With the declaration of a new state, the scene was set for merger of the TRS with the Congress.

But the TRS chief Kalvakuntla Chandrasekhar Rao had a different plan.

He dumped the Congress and announced his wish to keep TRS intact and go for the elections all alone.

This made Congress redraw its strategy for the newly created state.

The TRS is so confident of a landslide victory that it kept the CPI’s offer for seat adjustment in cold storage.

Finally, the vexed CPI went with Congress.

It is a different matter now that the TRS think-tank and Rajya Sabha member K Kesava Rao recently accepted that it was a mistake.

As the nominations were filed and the campaign in the semi-arid Telangana region began, the strengths and weaknesses of political parties came to the fore.

The TRS which has a bonding with the people of Telangana during the 14-year-long agitation, has seemingly overestimated its strength in all the 10 districts of the region.

The ‘Telangana wave’ appears to be limited to the northern districts of Karimnagar, Adilabad, Medak, Nizamabad and Warangal and the party has trouble finding suitable candidates in Khammam, Mahabubnagar, Nalgonda, Ranga Reddy and Hyderabad.

TRS’ past performance

The reason for this was that TRS never contested in all the Assembly segments since its inception – it won 26 Assembly seats and 5 LS seats in 2004.

Even in the byelections in 2006 that it forced upon the electorate of Telangana, TRS won only 7 out of 16 Assembly seats and 2 out of 4 LS seats it contested.

Then came its alliance with the TDP in 2009 against the Congress.

That experiment cost TRS dearly as it lost 16 out of 26 Assembly seats and three out of five MP seats it fought.

Now stretching its energies over all the 170 Assembly segments all alone without any partner is proving to be a Herculean task for the sub-regional party.

Pitted against Congress which has a traditional vote bank in the region and the strong Reddy vote behind it, TRS years ago played the dalit card announcing that a dalit will be the first CM of Telangana (dalits form around 22  per cent of the Telangana population.)

According to the Srikrishna Committee’s report on the formation of the new state, the forward castes in Telangana comprising Reddys, Velamas and Brahmins consist only 11 per cent of the population.

The Backward classes (BC) form 57 per cent of the electorate, a reason behind TDP’s Nara Chandrababu Naidu announcing that if voted to power, he would appoint a BC leader as first chief minister of Telangana. 

Now that KCR himself is the CM aspirant and the dalit CM promise has been kept under wraps for the time being, the Congress may take up the gauntlet and prop up Andole sitting MLA and former deputy CM Damodar Raj Narsimha as CM candidate.

Senior Telangana Congress leaders Jaipal Reddy, Geetha Reddy, Jana Reddy etc will also be the claimants.

The TDP has announced the name of state BC Welfare Association President R Krishnaiah as its CM candidate.

There is opposition inside the TDP about the prominence given to Krishaniah, as there are senior leaders like Errabelli Dayakar Rao (Velama,) Motkupalli Narsimhulu (SC) and Revanth Reddy (powerful Reddy community) waiting in the wings to be the first CM of Telangana.

It will be interesting to see how the TRS will improve from its 3.99 per cent vote share (in united AP) that gave the `Pink party’ its 10 seats in 2009, when the state was united.

Even though the Praja Rajyam Party(PRP) of mega star Chiranjeevi was merged with the Congress, a key question this time is where would its 16.22 per cent vote share go.

The PRP split the BC vote that traditionally belonged to TDP resulting in its defeat.

Even if the BC vote returns to TDP, Chandrababu Naidu’s “two regions-two eyes” policy might not bring it closer to power in Telangana, even with the support of BJP.

As the TRS is bound to eat into Congress party’s 36.56 per cent vote share, there is question mark over any single party gaining majority on its own.

Political analysts say that circumstances might force the Congress and TRS to team up to form the government in Telangana.

If TRS fails to get a majority, Congress and TRS will have to take the help of Majlis (AIMIM) - a strong force in Hyderabad - in an effort to stop the BJP-TDP combine from forming a coalition government.

If the TRS is as strong as it claims or if the people of Telangana strongly believe that it was the Congress that gave them the new state, Telangana will have a stable government to fulfil the six decade-long wish of the people of the region.

Otherwise, the larger than life egos of the leaders may throw the new state into political uncertainty.

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