Will a mahakutami (grand alliance) in Telangana deliver by eclipsing the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS)?
This expectation has sprung days after chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao (KCR) announced on September 6 that he is calling for early polls because of the "political fragility imposed on the state" by detractors, particularly the rival Congress. He also made a frontal attack on Rahul Gandhi, calling him the "biggest buffoon in the country" and announced the names of contestants for 105 of the 119 assembly constituencies to suggest he is staying way ahead of TRS’s political rivals.
The Congress and Telugu Desam Party are the principal players of the grand coalition in the state. (Photo: PTI)
Early talk of a mahakutami is a clear signal that rival parties are bracing to go all out to take on the TRS. The Congress and Telugu Desam Party are the principal players. The grand coalition, which has demanded President’s rule in the state till the elections, has also been joined by the Communist Party of India (CPI). Also, in this combination are NGOs and special interest groups trying to transform it as an electoral battle between what Telangana Pradesh Congress Committee president N Uttam Kumar Reddy describes as "an arrogant and autocratic KCR family" on one side and ‘the people of Telangana’ on the other.
All of them, who are opposing the BJP too, are rallying to stop KCR looking eagerly for a second term in a row, based on performance of the incomplete first term that ended abruptly in advance. It is KCR’s own making, inspired by the calculation that delinking the assembly poll from the Lok Sabha poll, unlike earlier, will give him a head start and ensure TRS fares better than it may have had in a simultaneous poll if issues were to confound voters.
The KCR gambit is to bank on the regional development narrative chasing his goal of a Bangaru (Golden) Telangana to win seats. While it is a sound strategy for a regional party satrap serious about his consolidating his position, both the Congress and TDP, which are particularly peeved by what they have perceived as ungrateful betrayal, believe the one lesson they have to teach KCR is trouncing the TRS in the polls.
KCR is banking on the regional development narrative of a Bangaru (Golden) Telangana to win seats. (Photo: PTI)
It’s easier said than done. With the formation of the grand Opposition coalition, the TRS, if past electoral vote-share records are to go by, faces a Himalayan challenge. The TRS strongman claims that at least 100 of the 119 seats are his party’s for the asking and opinion polls commissioned by him indicate the TRS will poll at least 50 per cent of the votes in these constituencies.
Grand alliances cut both ways. When the mahakutami of the Congress, TRS, CPI and CPI(M) took on the ruling TDP in 2004, it proved to be a resound success especially after the then state Congress chief YS Rajasekhara Reddy travelled through the state. What he did in enlarging the welfare net for the disadvantaged and needy helped the Congress to put down another mahakutami comprising the TDP, TRS, CPI and CPI(M) against the ruling party in 2009.
KCR is anticipating that the mahakutami of 2018 would meet a similar fate. For the moment Telangana is adding mahakutami to the lexicon on politicians and poll forecasters and perhaps offering a lesson or two for similar arrangements in other states and the way to go for a mahagathbandhan in the run-up to the 2019 general elections.
(Courtesy of Mail Today)