Will Telangana elections see revival of Congress in the state it helped form? (File Photo)
Away from the electoral heat and dust of Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan, billed as the semi-final before the 2019 general elections, Telangana in South India is witnessing a churn ahead of the Assembly elections that could revive the Congress.
After embracing its enemy – Telugu Desam Party – the Congress has forged an alliance of other smaller regional forces to take on the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS). It has on board now local unit of the CPI and regional formation of Telangana Jana Samithi (TJS) and together it is in a position to challenge the ruling party.
Indications from the ground are not so pleasant for the ruling party as some of its leaders in districts are joining the Congress. The latest entry into the Congress is TRS MLA and its tribal face, Ramulu Naik along with his followers. A few days ago, another prominent local leader Ramesh Rathod of the TRS joined the Congress after being denied a ticket to contest assembly polls.
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Stepping up the political heat, the Congress strategy includes maximizing the benefits of the alliance. A part of it is to project TJS founder M Kodandaram as the deputy chief minister should the alliance be voted to power, a move calculated to galvanise his party cadres. The Telangana Pradesh Congress Committee that held a meeting on Sunday in Hyderabad felt that Kodandaram should be persuaded to campaign in all the 119 constituencies rather than limit himself to the seat and region he was contesting in.
The Congress is also working out the possibility of fielding TJS candidates as its own because the newly formed regional party is yet to get its symbol. Since it is a part of the alliance, it would be beneficial for the formation if it fought under the Congress symbol, a senior TNCC leader felt. But then it would be entirely the call of TJS, which is also yet to react to the Congress thinking on deputy chief ministership.
But clearly, the Congress is showing much flexibility and also a desperation to dislodge the TRS as it knows that it is its only chance. Another five years in wilderness and people will completely forget its existence. Which is why the Congress is banking on using the Sonia card in Telangana.
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Sonia Gandhi, at whose insistence Telangana was carved out of Andhra Pradesh, is someone whom the people of Telangana respect and appreciate. Her campaign in the state, expected towards the latter half of October, will help the Congress cause, its leaders feel. Rahul Gandhi too is expected to tour the state from October 20.
TNCC president Uttam Kumar Reddy is convinced that the TRS government was scared of losing further base if elections were held on schedule and that is why they were advanced. “Early polls indicate the failure of the government,” the Congress leader said, adding that Chief Minister K Chandrashekhara Rao failed to fulfill any of his promises made during last elections.
In fact, even the BJP that is trying to gain a foothold in Telangana, which offers 17 Lok Sabha seats, has launched a blistering attack against the KCR government. Union Minister for Statistics and Programme Implementation, Sadananda Gowda, who was in Hyderabad on Sunday, demanded to know why KCR advanced the polls and said simultaneous elections to Assembly and Lok Sabha would have saved a lot of money. BJP president Amit Shah had earlier blasted the KCR government on non-performance as also on corruption, chipping away at the image of the state government.
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Instead of answering the questions raised on the government and its performance, Telangana minister for IT and KCR’s son, KT Rama Rao, lashed out at the Congress misrule of 67 years. He continued to blame the Congress for putting roadblocks in development process. What he conveniently forgets to mention is that the Congress is out of power in the state as also at the Centre and was reduced to a mere bystander of sorts in Lok Sabha with only 44 members.
This blame everything on the Congress is now sounding hollow. People would judge the TRS on performance and not propaganda, a political analyst said.
What is surprising, even for the Congressmen and women, is that the party that seemed to be nowhere just a six months ago has suddenly sprung up to be in a position to pose a real challenge to the ruling TRS.
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