TRS aims to emerge as sole vanguard of Telangana (Election Special)
In Seemandhra the poll campaign is all about who is responsible for division of Andhra Pradesh, while it is the reverse in Telangana, where all contenders for power are seeking votes by claiming credit for carving out the separate state.
After refusing to merge or even have an alliance with the Congress, the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) is trying to emerge as the sole regional party representing the interests of Telangana, which will come into being as a separate state June 2.
After fighting the two previous elections in alliance with others, TRS is all set to go it alone in the April 30 polls to 119 assembly and 17 Lok Sabha constituencies spread over 10 districts including Hyderabad.
With its goal of separate state achieved, TRS is now trying to emerge as a formidable regional party and the vanguard of the new state's development.
"When Seemandhra can have two regional parties (TDP and YSR Congress) why can't Telangana have one to fight for its interests," asked K. Chandrasekhara Rao, who floated TRS in 2001 to revive the movement for a separate Telangana state.
KCR, as Rao is popular among his supporters, says his mission is now to rebuild Telangana and make it a developed state. He claims Telangana has no place for 'Andhra' parties like TDP and YSR Congress and he is also not ready to give any importance to BJP's prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi.
"We need our MPs to fight for our interests at the centre and to get big projects and funds from Delhi," says KCR, who is confident of winning 100 assembly and 16 Lok Sabha seats.
The Congress is finding itself on a sticky wicket as its hopes to reap a rich harvest by granting separate statehood were dashed by TRS's volte-face on merger. Accusing TRS of betrayal by going back on its word to merge the party after formation of a separate state, the Congress is hoping to win people's 'sympathy'.
As KCR gets ready to plunge into the campaign by hiring a helicopter, a bitter war of words has already started between him and the Congress leaders. While KCR is attacking Congress leaders for failing to protect the interests of Telangana, the Congress leaders are alleging that an 'arrogant' person like KCR can only bring 'dorala palana' or the rule of landlords.
They are also targeting him for promoting his own family and for going back on the word to make a Dalit as the first chief minister of Telangana.
Ponnala Lakshmaiah, the president of Congress' Telangana unit, is confident of his party coming to power in the state and also winning a majority of Lok Sabha seats. He claims that the people of Telangana recognize that it was only because of party president Sonia Gandhi that Telangana state became a reality.
However, it may not be a direct fight between the Congress and TRS. The Telugu Desam Party (TDP) believes it is still strong in the region despite its portrayal of a 'villain' by the TRS. TDP leaders say without their letter to the central government supporting Telangana, the separate state would not have been formed.
A possible alliance between TDP and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) may make it a three-cornered contest. The BJP, which is considered strong in some pockets of the region and is claiming credit for the passage of the Telangana bill in parliament, is demanding a majority of assembly and Lok Sabha seats. TDP, however, is not willing to give more than 50 assembly and eight Lok Sabha seats.
There are other players in the region as well. Both the Congress and TRS are vying with each other to have an alliance with the Communist Party of India (CPI), which has its support base in parts of Nalgonda, Khammam and Karimnagar districts. The Communist Party of India (Marxist) also has its presence in these districts.
Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM), a key force in Hyderabad, has ruled out an alliance with any party and is looking to expand its base by contesting the polls in other parts of the region.
YSR Congress is also hoping to cash in on the pro-poor schemes launched by Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy when he was chief minister from 2004 to 2009.
The Lok Satta of bureaucrat-turned-politician Jayaprakash Narayan is also fighting the elections in and around Hyderabad. Jana Sena, launched recently by Telugu actor Pawan Kalyan, may also field candidates from some constituencies in Greater Hyderabad with considerable number of voters from Seemandhra.
In the 2004 elections, which TRS won in alliance with the Congress, the sub-regional party bagged 24 assembly and five Lok Sabha seats. TRS joined the grand alliance comprising the TDP and the left parties in 2009 but could win only 10 assembly and two Lok Sabha seats.
In 2009, the Congress had bagged 50 assembly seats. The TDP got 38, MIM seven, CPI four, Praja Rajyam Party (PRP) two and CPI and Lok Satta one each. Independents were elected in four constituencies.
The Congress had won 12 Lok Sabha seats. TDP could get only two while MIM retained Hyderabad.
(Mohammed Shafeeq can be contacted at email@example.com)
(Posted on 27-03-2014)