The colours of Telangana’s political landscape are changing so rapidly that one would imagine the State Assembly elections are round the corner. Although not even half the term of the current Assembly is through, the colours have been shifting from a predominant pink (TRS) to shades of saffron (BJP) to a fading tricolour (Congress).Who knows, they may acquire the hues of Y. S. Sharmila’s party when she launches it in April.
After TRS president K. Chandrashekar Rao’ smart move to advance the Assembly elections by six months to December 2018, the pink party steamrollered the opposition. Thereafter, it has brooked no challenge, at least till now. It swept the polls winning 88 seats, persuaded a majority of Congress MLAs to defect, and handed out a humiliating defeat to the saffron party by restricting it to one seat.
In just six months, the colours on Telangana’s political map began morphing. In the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, pink party had to make way for saffron in four and the tricolour in three while green (MIM) retained its Hyderabad bastion. The remaining nine seats won by TRS were a gross mismatch for the 100-plus Assembly seats under its thumb. KCR was down but not out because his calculation that the Modi factor would hurt his party in Parliament polls was spot on.
This prognosis was of little use as the TRS could not assess what was in store in the near future. In fact, KCR was so overconfident that he did not campaign in the Huzurnagar by-election in 2019. And then came the shock of Dubbak, the seat it had won with a thumping majority (54.36% vote share) in the General Election. Dubbak shares its borders with KCR’s constituency, Gajwel, his son K. T. Rama Rao’s stronghold, Sircilla, and Siddipet, the fortress of his nephew T. Harish Rao.
KCR’s forte always has been his sense of timing. Even this quality went missing from his armoury when he opted for early elections to the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) at a time when public anger against mishandling of the October floods hadn’t subsided.
The pink party’s tally plummeted from 99 to 56, while the BJP’s rose 10 times from four to 48. That the saffron party was on the upswing at the cost of TRS and Congress was evident from its back-to-back accomplishments in Dubbak and GHMC with an aggressive party president Bandi Sanjay leveraging the good performance in the Lok Sabha polls.
The AIMIM, the joker in the pack in Hyderabad politics, is emerging as a force to reckon with. That the friendship between KCR and AIMIM supremo Asaduddin Owaisi is deeply rooted is undeniable, though KCR likes people to believe otherwise when convenient such as the GHMC polls when the two were pitted against one another. Barely two months had passed before they again became thick friends. In an about-turn from its decision to contest the election, AIMIM voted for the TRS’ Mayoral candidate Gadwal Vijayalakshmi. Not just that, Owaisi said “no, thanks” when KCR offered the Deputy Mayorship to his party.
A new dimension has been added by Y. S. Sharmila’s decision to launch her own party in Telangana, ostensibly against the will of her brother and AP Chief Minister Jaganmohan Reddy. It is difficult to fathom what is in her mind. YSR’s rule, or ‘Rajanna Rajyam’ as she puts it, may not be a thundering success because all aware of YSR’ anathema to a separate Telangana State. Secondly, his flagship programmes like Arogyasri is being implemented.
pIn the absence of a cogent explanation by Sharmila about her party’s objectives, several theories are afloat, including one that it is a ploy to undercut the Congress party’s base. However, it does not square up with Sharmila’s move to campaign against anti-farmer policies of the government in Nalgonda district, where a by-election is due in Nagarjuna Sagar. Here the TRS is facing a Dubbak-like contest, its principal opponent this time being the Congress whose likely candidate K. Jana Reddy will give the ruling party a run for its money. Realising this challenge, KCR campaigned in Halia and went ballistic against the Congress, besides announcing sops worth Rs.2,700 crore.
What stands out in the State’s politics is KCR’s emphatic assertion that he would remain the Chief Minister for the next 10 years, scuttling all chatter by partymen that his son, KTR, would soon be anointed in his place. Why KCR took 3-4 months to squash this talk is a point to ponder.
What is undeniable is that TRS needs his steadying hand and savvy, qualities that his son is yet to match, at a time when the skyline is showing all indications of changing from pink to a rainbow of colours. The TRS has to remain wary of challenges it is facing from multiple directions. #KhabarLive #hydnews