Battleground Telangana  – General Elections 2019

Battleground Telangana – General Elections 2019

Politics of Telangana

               India’s 29th state Telangana has a long history and the political conflicts cannot be taken lightly. Telangana was formed in June 2014 becoming the youngest state of our country. The political landscape was rife with conflicts which lead to various movements and eventually the state of Telangana was formed. In 1955, the struggle for Telangana gained momentum when the States Reorganization Commission went past a suggestion that Hyderabad was being recommended to be retained as a separate state. The Telangana leaders accused the people of Andhra on the issue of colonizing their jobs and land. There was another agitation in 1969 when protests took storm with the battle against the government. Over 300 people were killed in police firing. Former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s intervention with a six-point objective of employment and development did not go down well either.

               In 1997, the BJP came in support of the idea for a separate Telangana state. KCR’s (K. Chandrashekar Rao) push for the Telangana movement along with the launch of TRS (Telangana Rashtra Samithi) only intensified after this. KCR also had a fast-unto-death protest in Karimnagar in 2009 for the cause of the Telangana movement. After this, the Union government intervened in 2009 and announced the message of forming Telangana state while there were wide protests in the Rayalaseema region and Coastal Andhra. After this, the Centre backed out, and there were again mass protests in the districts of Telangana and Hyderabad. There were many suicides, deaths and disturbances which hindered public life. In 2014, the bill was passed in Parliament for the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh and the creation of Telangana state. The state Telangana was officially formed in June 2014 with KCR being elected as the first Chief Minister and TRS winning majority of votes in the election.

K Chandrashekar Rao’s TRS in Telangana

                KCR’s strategy of having elections in advance had actually paid off well. KCR got a second consecutive term as the Chief Minister in Telangana. Of the 119-member assembly, the ruling party had an impressive tally of over 80 seats which left the Congress-led People’s Front at the second place with just 21 seats. The hopes for the Congress to revive its fortunes in the state faced a setback against the TRS juggernaut. The voters of Telangana rejected the Congress-TDP alliance and dislodged the party from power. The TDP had polled merely at 3.5 % of the votes and had lost even in Hyderabad. Chandrababu Naidu’s expectations and alliance with the Congress in tackling KCR’s leadership was a tough one.

               KCR’s welfare schemes and his leadership by building the party’s edifice along with the Telangana sentiment laid the seeds of harvest in Telangana. In his campaign, he stressed on the inefficiency of previous regimes and the tough situation Telangana actually went through. His welfare schemes and sops offered to girls, widows, women, weavers, the infirm, the toddy tappers and Muslims, found no reason among the voters to align with the Congress. A scheme called ‘Rythu Bandhu’ of giving input subsidies of Rs.8000 each to over 50 lakh farmers got him a lot of votes. However, there were other schemes which were not successful like- the promise of jobs to the youth and the TRS flagship programme of providing double bedroom houses to the poor. However, some schemes did not go awry compared to the measures provided. For instance, the old-age pensions for beneficiaries directly deposited into the bank account instead of brokers had also played well. The KCR kits scheme wherein pregnant women are given over Rs 10,000 along with 16 other items for the mother and children, was also very popular.

              The Chief Minister’s generosity, however, has made the state from a revenue-surplus one to a revenue-deficit state. In January 2019, its public debt stood at Rs.1.80 lakh crore than the annual budget of Rs.1.74 lakh crore, which drained the exchequer by the mega irrigation and water projects. KCR’s style of leadership has also been one of shrewdness and tact, especially in dealing with opposition both inside and outside the party. He remains a clever strategist and election grandmaster, turning the tables for Telangana around. This showed the strength of his leadership compared to other national parties and their influence on the state of Telangana.

The Road to 2019

                The TRS victory left the BJP gasping for breath with just one seat from five despite heavy rallying by senior BJP leaders in the last assembly elections. The BJP failed to dispel the perception among voters that TRS was its B-Team in the backdrop of the no-confidence motion against the Modi government and its undetermined stand over the triple talaq bill. Since the vote for the BJP was being perceived as an endorsement of KCR, people chose the TRS over other parties. One has to also note that after these assembly elections MIM (Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul-Muslimeen) party president Asaduddin Owaisi and Chandrashekar Rao got closer to discuss strategies for the national agenda.

                The Federal Front advanced by KCR as a non-BJP and non-Congress formation had also lost its objective because of Mamata Banerjee, H.D Deve Gowda, and M.K Stalin aligning with the Congress to take on the BJP. However, insiders say that KCR is determined to play a large role in national politics even while remaining Chief Minister as his party had secured the highest votes -15 out of 17 Lok Sabha seats. Telangana apart, KCR also has an ambition of forming another grand alliance of regional parties or another national party, away from the BJP & Congress, for the national agenda of India. One can only wait and observe the twists and turns in this big fight for Indian democracy? 2019 elections are definitely going to be a game changer!

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