Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao (KCR) seems to have played his cards adroitly by getting the state Assembly to unanimously recommend the dissolution of the House leading up to fresh elections, eight months before the scheduled time. The ball is in the Election Commission’s court and it is on the cards that the assembly polls would be held well before they were earlier scheduled along with the general elections next April-May which is what KCR wants.
Although for the record, KCR cited the ‘political fragility’ in the state and ‘unlimited idiocy of the Congress’ as reasons for seeking an early vote, the real reason was his fear that if the polls were held simultaneously with the Lok Sabha polls the focus would get diffused from the spotlight on him to greater focus on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Congress president Rahul Gandhi.
Chandrasekhar Rao is now hopeful that the Telangana elections would be clubbed with elections to state assemblies in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh and Mizoram and that he would have a smooth ride.
Evidently, when Rao met Modi in New Delhi recently they had discussed the proposition and there was a tacit understanding that the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) would support the BJP in the event of a hung Parliament.
Rao’s sharing of bad vibes with Rahul Gandhi and his diatribe against the Congress president calling him the ‘biggest buffoon’ in the country made it amply clear that an alliance between the TRS and the Congress after the polls is ruled out.
The Congress indeed is the largest opposition party in Telangana accounting for 14 members in the just-dissolved assembly which has a total of 119 members. The TRS is way ahead with 90 seats while the BJP has five. Clearly, the shrewd chief minister saw the Congress as a greater threat to him and thought it prudent to take it on before the elections.
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Rao also reckons that a pre-poll alliance with the BJP would have jeopardised the substantial Muslim vote bank in the state because of their antipathy towards the BJP. Now, he will take advantage of the Muslim vote bank in the Assembly polls and then decide whether to support the BJP at the Centre so as to have greater leverage if the BJP returns to power.
Chandrashekhar Rao had contemplated jumping on to the regional parties bandwagon for a brief while but he had tacitly shown that he was for it only if he was chosen to lead the grouping and that if the Congress was not part of the arrangement. After he went across to meet Mamata Banerjee in Kolkata, KCR perceived that it was she who coveted the leadership role and Mamata was not averse to cozying up to the Congress.
That made KCR decide to drop the idea of a regional parties conglomerate as a third force and to open fresh negotiations with the BJP from which he could gain a better deal.
The BJP too is not in the best of shapes in Andhra and Telangana. In Andhra, it is still smarting under the ‘betrayal’ by Chandrababu Naidu and while it is off and on in touch with Jagan Mohan Reddy, there is no guarantee that they would hit it off together. In Telangana, a tie-up would give it an advantage both at the Centre and in the state and, together, the two parties could endeavour to decimate the Congress.
The TRS chief is too clever to have a tacit understanding in the Assembly polls with the BJP because of fear of the Muslim vote leaving him. But with the Lok Sabha polls delinked, such tacit understanding is possible for the Lok Sabha polls.
All eyes are therefore on KCR and his next moves in the unfolding Telangana drama. As of now, it is advantage BJP in the battle against the Congress in the southern state.