By John Cheeran
Telangana votes tomorrow (December 7). If the mood among common men and women in the state capital Hyderabad is any indication, it is quite unlikely that there would not be regime change, leaving the rabblerousing family of K Chandrasekhar Rao retaining the reins of power.
On Thursday, on the eve of the poll, people are hardly talking about their voting preferences. This has been the trend here in Hyderabad over the last one month, with everyone quite dismissive about the Telangana Rashtra Samithi as well as the four party alliance stitched together by Andhra Pradesh chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu with Congress playing the lead partner’s role.
The People’s Front has given TRS a contest, but their push does not seem powerful enough to dislodge the incumbent. It is winter here, but discontent is not foggy enough for Chandrasekhar Rao’s poll mascot, the car in pink, to lose its way. There is, obviously, an undercurrent of resentment but not boiling anger. However corrupt the TRS regime has been the general belief among people is that Rao has shared some of the booty with the distressed, by offering spinoff welfare schemes such as Raythu Bandhu for farmers and 2BHK houses for the homeless. As always happens in India, this has been delivered not across the board but to his camp followers.
But reporters who have been to hinterland Telangana admit that it is a close contest in many constituencies and Congress-led alliance could come very, very close, but still fall short of the majority in the 119-member assembly. The expectations that TDP’s silent sympathizers in a bifurcated Telugu population would transfer wholeheartedly their support to a wall flower leader like PCC president Uttam Kumar Reddy are unlikely to bear fruit on the polling day. But the unmeasured unit in this arithmetic is the role BJP could play. It had 5 MLAs in the dissolved assembly, but if it could increase the tally by another five seats, cutting votes across parties, it would be a unenviable situation for both TRS as well as People’s Front. TRS is the natural partner for BJP going by the party’s sheer opportunism and anti-Congress rhetoric but the seven seats that Asaduddin Owaisi’s unabashedly Muslim party, AIMIM, is expected to win hands down then become untenable.
The deep disappointment of these elections is the stand alone approach of CPI(M), not willing to join forces with Congress and CPI, citing ideological purity over pragmatic politics. CPM which had one MLA (in Bhadrachalam) in the assembly could have transferred its still meagre but loyal votes to the common cause.
That often in electoral politics grand alliances do not end up transferring the individual parties’ voter cache to the synergy may well work against the People’s Front in Telangana too.
A win for the Congress-led alliance would, however, strengthen Chandrababu Naidu who is said to have bankrolled the People’s Front campaign and staked his pride and prestige in the election where he is perceived as an anti-Telangana schemer. It would be a political coup, if the People’s Front wins in Telangana. He could claim that he stopped both Modi and KCR in their tracks and raise his national visibility and swing votes in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections by appealing to Telugu pride, even though it is, at the moment, a much frayed fabric.
Bet on it. It may pay you remarkable dividends in future.