With elections just a week away, Telangana is witnessing high-decibel electioneering. While Prime Minister Narendra Modi has finished one round of campaign in the poll-bound state, where people will cast their votes on December 7, he will campaign once again on December 3, the last day for campaigning in the state.
Narendra Modi will campaign in the state on December 5. (Source: PTI)
The state has also witnessed high decibel campaigning from the Congress with UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and party president Rahul Gandhi seeking votes for the grand alliance, or Prajakutami, the rainbow alliance between Congress, Telugu Desam party (TDP), Left and Telangana Jana Samithi (TJS).
Telangana is witnessing a tight contest between the ruling Telangana Rastra Samiti (TRS) and the Congress-led Prajakutami, with both leaving no stone unturned in wooing voters.
While Congress state unit chief Uttam Kumar Reddy has famously announced that if Prajakutami loses, he will quit politics, TRS leader, caretaker minister and son of chief minister Kalvakuntla Chandrashekar Rao, K Taraka Rama Rao (KTR), too has announced his retirement from politics if the ruling party looses.
While the TRS is banking on development projects, including several cash benefit schemes, and believes the poll sops can bring them back to power, the Congress-led Opposition front is targeting the ruling ‘pink party’ over his failed promises like two-bedroom houses for the poor, one lakh jobs per year for unemployed youths and 12 per cent reservation for the minorities.
The state has a population of around 12 per cent Muslims and so the reservation promise can prove to be a big mobiliser.
Interestingly, while the Hyderabad-based All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) is standing firm with the TRS, it has so far refused to enter a formal alliance with the party. The AIMIM is still campaigning for the ruling party and at the same time contesting on eight Assembly segments.
Asaduddin Owaisi’s party, which had seven MLAs in the now dissolved Assembly, could emerge as the kingmaker once the results are announced.
Telangana will go to polls on December 7. (Source: PTI)
Asaduddin brother, Akbaruddin Owaisi, has already hinted at that by making a sensational statement, “Whoever becomes the chief minister, doesn’t he bend before us? Haven’t they all listened to us? So, who has the real weight in the balance? — AIMIM,” he said.
“We will show the power of AIMIM after December 11. We will be political king,” Akbaruddin said.
The controversial statement attracted criticism both from the Congress and the BJP, which won five seats in 2014.
A battle that can change the fate of both Congress and TRS
While the TRS is fighting its first ever battle as a ruling party in the state, the Congress sees it as a rehearsal for 2019 general election.
TRS, which won 63 seats in 2014, increased its number to 90 with MLAs from Congress and TDP changing loyalties and joining the ruling party. It has repeated all most all of its sitting MLAs (apart from four) and is contesting the poll using KCR as the face of its campaign.
The party is also facing serious anti-incumbency. (Source: PTI)
The party believes that once again the charismatic KCR will bring it back to power.
However, the party is also facing serious anti-incumbency against its sitting MLAs and so the Congress hopes that it stands a chance to form a government in the state.
The Congress is also banking on the power of the Reddy community which has been given 33 seats (out of 99). The leadership is however worried about Muslim votes, which they see as a crucial factor.
As the AIMIM is supporting the TRS, Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad, who had earlier served as in-charge of erstwhile Andhra Pradesh, is trying to garner support from the community on behalf of the Congress.
The winner of Hyderabad will become the new Nizam
The Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) Assembly segment, which has 29 seats, has become a crucial battle field.
Traditionally dominated by ‘settlers’, with roots in Andhra Pradesh, the Congress leadership believes that its alliance partner TDP, can help them win.
During 2014 also the TDP was the best performer in the GHMC area. Party chief and Andhra Pradesh CM N Chandrababu Naidu held a two-day long campaign and also shared dais with AICC president Rahul Gandhi.
On the other hand, the TRS has found a friend in AIMIM and its supremo, Asaduddin Owaisi, who represents Hyderabad in Parliament. The AIMIM won seven seats in 2014 and is contesting on eight this time.
TRS’ second in command, KTR, who is known as a young leader with reach in the middle and upper middle classes, is expected to attract the educated youth to vote for the party. KTR is campaigning extensively in the city constituency apart from wooing deferent non-Telugu communities in favour of his party.
Traditionally, TRS has had a strong base in north Telangana and in 2014 out of 54 seats (spread across districts Adilabad, Nizamabad, Karimnagar, Medak and Warangal) it won 51 seats. The party also performed well in the traditional Congress stronghold, South Telangana (Mahabubnagar, Nalgonda, and Khammam districts) by winning 24 seats (out of 36) Assembly seats.
In the 2009 polls, the TRS couldn’t even open its account and so this time with anti-incumbency, the Congress is putting in all efforts in both north and south Telangana to shatter the TRS’ dreams of holding on to power.
Meanwhile, the election is also witnessing unprecedented seizure of cash by the Election Commission and enforcement agencies.
So far, a whopping over Rs 100 crore have been seized, which includes Rs 89 crore in cash, liquor worth over Rs 9 crore, gold and silver worth Rs 7 crore, and other banned items.