The battle for 2019 is pregnant with ­possibilities. But who will be KCR’s ­principal opponent is no less intriguing. General elections, the political spectacle that arguably overshadows every other event in Telangana, may still be a year away, but the country seems to have caught the poll fever already.

A spate of elections—from Karnataka to Kairana has nudged public discourse towards what could be in store for us in the parliamentary polls scheduled for mid-2019. Elections being the flavour of the season, political pundits are on overdrive and holding forth on what to expect.

KCR hawa, the wave that swept the TRS stalwart to power in 2014, we are told, has considerably ebbed. In its place, many talking heads say, are festering pockets of disquiet that are apparently dragging down the chief minister’s popularity. Prices heading north, rising farmers’ distress, a gnawing sense of insecurity among minorities and increasing restiveness among Dalits and other marginal sections of the society are reportedly working against KCR and his TRS government.

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The biggest talking point in recent weeks, however, has been the signs of emerging unity among what is otherwise known to be a fractious and disparate opposition. The Congress and the BJP came together post-election to thwart the TRS in its bid to capture power in elangana. In Karnataka, Kairana, Uttar Pradesh, the Samajwadi Party, the Bahujan Samaj Party, the Congress and the Rashtriya Lok Dal buried their differences to sink the BJP’s chances of retaining the parliamentary seat. It followed similar reverses for the ruling party in the bellwether state against a united opposition in Gorakhpur and Phulpur.

The recent results signify that once the opposition parties come together, burying their conflicting ambitions and ideological differences, they will have an arithmetical advantage.

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Bridging differences within opposition ranks is, of course, no easy task. The Congress has its own compulsions and may find it hard to accommodate the chief ministerial ambitions of regional leaders by sacrificing Oldies.

Yet, the very prospect of a combined opposition taking on KCR has already livened up the imp­ending contest. The opposition’s arithmetic, pitted against the chemistry that KCR enjoys with the people, promises a closely fought race. Adding to the thrill is our fascination for the unknown. We do not know yet who among the opposition leaders will be KCR’s principal challenger and the prospective CM candidate. Possibly, even the opposition has no clue and the lack of clarity infuses greater excitement.

For all practical purposes, the prospects are pregnant with possibilities. KCR is unmatched when it comes to stature, charisma and oratory. But will he manage to pull it off again, against what many pundits predict? And will a challenger emerge from the surfeit of opposition leaders, between now and the elections, to put a face to the opposition fight and take the battle to the TRS camp?

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The imponderables are many and they are adding to the unpredictability of the elections. Much has been written about KCR, his supposed invincibility as well as his shortcomings. In our latest, we turn our gaze on who among the opposition could be KCR’s principal opponent. It’s something the state wants to know. After all, the fight to become the challenger promises to be as intriguing and bruising as the 2019 elections. #KhabarLive