Telangana polls: KCR way ahead, but can he take the Cong-TDP combine lightly?
Hyderabad, Sep 17: The Telangana assembly was dissolved early and K Chandrashekhar Rao decided to take the plunge soon in what analysts describe as a well calculated move.
Initial surveys clearly show that KCR and his TRS are clearly at an advantage. KCR for now has everything going for him and going by the mood of the people, it appears as though the elections for him would be easy pickings.
For the TRS, the primary opponent is the Congress. KCR would however not take the Congress lightly considering the fact that the party would be fighting the polls alongside the Telugu Desam Party.
Back in 2014, when the state of Telangana was formed after Congress led UPA at the Centre gave the nod, the people of the state had said that the first choice of government would be given to the TRS. They felt that it was the TRS that led the movement and hence the first chance should be given to them. There were many who had said that in the next election they would give the Congress a chance.
With the emotive issue of Telangana state besides him, KCR led the TRS to victory in 2014 with 63 seats and 34.3 per cent of the popular votes.
Four years have passed and a lot has changed. Over the years, KCR has consolidated himself further in the state. He has emerged as a stronger and more charismatic leader. This year too he would flaunt the emotional and regional card. In fact post the dissolution of the Assembly he had said the people of the state must not become slaves of Delhi.
The other advantage for the TRS is that it is clear about its chief ministerial candidate. The same cannot be said about the Congress-TDP combine.
KCR is also popular for the work he has done in the new state. He had a massive challenge on hand when the new state was formed. He has delivered on the power front and brought the state out of a crisis.
Further he has doled out several schemes, bettered ease of doing business in the state. His main focus has also been on the farmer friendly schemes. Most importantly he has managed to check the law and order situation. As the state was formed, there was a threat of attacks on non-Telangana residents. Further he has also managed to keep in check communal elements and also the naxalites.
However he has been targeted on giving too much importance to his family (son and daughter). His failure of increasing reservation for Muslims and Scheduled Tribes to 12 per cent has been a major weapon that the opposition has used against him.
State of Congress:
This is a do or die election for the Congress. In 2014, the party won just 21 out of the 119 despite the party in the Centre giving the nod for the creation of the state. However the Congress would take solace out of the fact that it had polled 25 per cent votes in 2014.
What has daunted the Congress the most in Telangana is the absence of a strong leader or a CM face. The party would go after the votes of the Dalits, Backward Classes, tribals and minorities. Further it would also bank heavily on the Nehru-Gandhi family for star power during the elections.
Although in 2014, the people backed KCR, there are people who still say that without Sonia 'amma' the creation of a separate state would not have been possible.
Although a major player in the state, the party realised that it would need a trick with the TDP to perform well in the elections. The alliance with the TDP made sense for the Congress as it would help it rope in the Reddy votes to a large extent.
The TDP factor:
In 2014, the TDP won, 15 seats and polled 14.7 per cent of the votes. The TDP does enjoy the support among the Andhra settlers. The big question is whether these persons would back the TDP this time too.
The possibility that it swing a considerable number of these votes with the help of the Congress cannot be ruled out. In a bid to counter the TDP, the TRS would go all out and label it a pro-Andhra party. The anti-Andhra sentiment in Telangana still runs strong and the TRS would do anything to exploit that.
The Asaduddin Owaisi led AIMM is a key player in certain pockets and more importantly Hyderabad. The party enjoys a strong clout among the Muslims. In 2014, the party won seven assembly seats and had a vote per cent age of 3.8.
The party is very strong on the ground especially in Hyderabad and connects well with the masses. It would have no problem in retaining the seven seats. The AIMM would however look to bag three more seats in the city, which are currently held by the TRS and BJP.
There have been mixed signals where the BJP is concerned. The TRS staging a walk out during the no confidence vote and then backing the BJP candidate in the Rajya Sabha deputy chairman elections were all signals that the two parties would come together in Telangana.
BJP president, Amit Shah was however critical of the TRS during his recent election rally. While the BJP would fight the battle alone in Telangana, there appears to be an understanding with the TRS that the party would not go all out against KCR. This is an understanding in the context of the 2019 polls and is also part of the BJP's southern strategy.
In case the BJP does fall short, it could well get outside support from the TRS. In the 2014 polls, the BJP had won 5 seats, all from Hyderabad and polled 7 per cent of the votes.
While the battle lines look clear, the top political parties would also keep a close watch on the likes of the YSR Congress Party, CPI, CPI (M), Jana Sena and Telangana Jana Samiti. These parties could upset the calculations of the big-wigs. However for now, it is KCR and his TRS which has the upper hand.