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In TRS vs Rest Tussle in Telangana, Changing Equations Keep KCR on His Toes

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Hyderabad: A few days before Chief Minister and TRS founder K Chandrashekar Rao dissolved the Assembly advancing the elections, some TRS MLAs tried to advise him against such an audacious move.

According to insiders, they did not even get an audience with him and finally conveyed their feelings to his nephew and water Resources minister T Harish Rao. The one-time blue eyed boy of his uncle KCR, Rao told them that it was too late for the chief minister to step back and told them to face the people at the hustings.

The day he dissolved the Assembly, a confident KCR told the media that entire party and legislature was unanimous in favour of an early polls. He said, “No one opposed me. Not a single person. All MLAs and party workers are in agreement with my decision. It shows their trust in me.”

The “judgment” day is just six weeks away and political equations in the buildup to the voting are rapidly changing in what has become a bi-polar fight between TRS and the rest.
What really has altered in the last few days? The political observers have several theories. In 2014, riding on the Telangana state wave, KCR came to power with just 63 seats and less than 38% votes. There were half a dozen parties in the fray and the anti-TRS votes got badly divided among them.

The Congress, which staked everything by dividing Andhra Pradesh, was for a rude shock as KCR emerged as a clear winner with the title “father of Telangana”, denying the credit to party and Sonia Gandhi. The Congress polled about 25% of the votes. The TDP finished third by garnering about 15% of the votes. In 2014, the Congress and the TDP together polled 40% votes, five percent more than the TRS.

In the last four and a half years, KCR has unwittingly made Telangana politics bipolar by decimating the opposition parties like TDP, YSRCP etc in the state. It may have helped him in running a smooth administration, but the same thing seems to have strengthened the Congress. Realising that the only way to defeat KCR is opposition unity, the old rivals Congress and TDP have joined hands under the banner of “Mahakutami” or “Grand Alliance” this time. It has unnerved the TRS on the ground.

According to a veteran political analyst and journalist Dileep Reddy, if they fight well the Congress, TDP, Left and Telangana Joint Action Committee (TJAC) can at least give KCR a run for his money.

“KCR does not have a caste base like others in the fray. His caste Velama is not numerically strong in Telangana. Reddys are about 10% of the total population and most have returned to the Congress this time. The Congress has too many of them and headed by the same caste. The Muslims may not back KCR fully because they suspect that he will go with the BJP in the Lok Sabha elections. Except Hyderabad city, the minorities are likely to vote for the Congress-led alliance. The SC/ST and OBC votes may split between the TRS and the Congress-led alliance. It has caused a huge worry to the TRS. Perhaps KCR did not do his maths well,” he said.

According to Reddy, if the opposition unity clicks they can very well cross the simple majority mark easily.

The TDP supremo Chandrababu Naidu who has an old score to settle with KCR has asked his party men to do everything possible to unseat the TRS government in the state. According to TDP Telangana president L Ramana, Naidu has categorically told them that they must ensure the opposition unity at any cost.

Many activists who fought for Telangana alongside KCR have now turned against him. Popular public figures like balladeer Gaddar, Telangana ideologue Professor Kodandaram and many other local leaders are asking the voters to defeat KCR, who in their view has gone against the spirit of their movement after coming to power. Gaddar has gone one step further asking the people to attend Congress president Rahul Gandhi’s public meetings in large numbers making it a huge success everywhere in the state.

The YSRCP chief YS Jaganmohan Reddy has decided to stay away from Telangana elections and it is also expected to help the opposition.

But being an old war horse, KCR is aware of the opposition strategy and trying to ambush them. His close aides claim that KCR is putting an extra effort on only 60-70 Assembly seats and wants them to win these seats at any cost. In the 119-member Telangana Assembly, halfway mark is 61 seats.

KCR is also trying to exploit the divisions in the Congress. The party has over a dozen senior leaders and they are not on best terms. And the fight over seat sharing is still on. The TRS has only one face that of KCR himself. Trying to strike an emotional chord with the voters, KCR is repeatedly warning them that only he can provide them with a stable government and Telangana centric governance. “If you vote for the Congress and the TDP, the state will be run from New Delhi and Amaravathi, not from Telangana. Did you fight for that? Do you want that?” he asks the voters at his public meetings.

The TRS cadres feel that finally the KCR government’s welfare schemes and stable government help them in convincing the people to give them one more chance. Mahesh, a TRS worker from Shamshabad said, “Earlier we thought that election was an easy cake. In the last one month we have realised that it is getting tougher. But it is still 60:40. We are 60% and they are 40%. Somehow we will win.”

Party cadres like him are waking up to the fast changing political equations, but remain confident that KCR will finally pull this one through.

| Edited by: Ashutosh Tripathi





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