Sunny Side Down
Why Telangana CM K Chandrasekhar Rao is in election mode
The CM, in order to test his popularity, is toying with the idea of forcing a bypoll for the Nalgonda Lok Sabha seat.
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When the majority of the 53,148 miners and others, call out to vote on October 5 to decide who will steer the Singareni Collieries Company Limited(SCCL) Employees Union for the next five years, the outcome is likely to be a pointer on which way the wind will blow in the assembly elections in Telangana due by May 2019.
This is because both the ruling TRS of CM K Chandrasekhar Rao (whose Telangana Boggu Gani Karmika Sangham (TGBKS) won the SCCL poll in 2012, two years before the fledgling state was created) and a formidable opposition — the rival AITUC of the CPI, backed by both the INTUC of the Congress and TNTUC of the TDP — are locked in a prestigious battle. They, as well as the CPI(M), backed CITU and BJP-supported BMS, have been out on an extensive campaign in the miners’ colonies and at mines.
TBGKS is assuring employees of initiating a dependent jobs scheme, interest-free loan of Rs 6 lakh, no privatisation of mines and ban on paying income tax. The AITUC is promising them that they would obstruct privatisation of mines, provide interest-free housing loans to all employees, ban income tax, reduce working hours and to institute and implement recommendations of a wage board.
KCR has put the onus of the TBGKS win and retaining power on Khammam MP Ponguleti Srinivasa Reddy. He claims TGBKS will win with a big majority as more than 2,500 employees and leaders have joined its ranks from rival unions since mid-September.
However, the Congress, TDP and CPI which have joined hands to defeat the TBGKS, allege that KCR has deployed ministers and other senior TRS leaders apprehensive of losing in the wake of the growing resentment among SCCL towards the state.
“KCR is continuing the practice of making empty promises to woo voters,” says Uttam Kumar Reddy, Telangana Pradesh Congress Committee president. “If he was serious, KCR would have revived the dependent jobs scheme and set up a super-specialty hospital for Singareni workers which he had promised earlier,” said A Revanth Reddy, TDP’s Telangana state working president.
If the cues from the SCCL employees’ union election results aren’t strong enough, KCR is toying with the idea of forcing a by-election for the Nalgonda Lok Sabha seat by getting partyman Gutta Sukhender Reddy to resign. This is to assess if the popularity and support for the Congress, whom he abandoned as an electoral ally in the run up to the 2014 assembly polls, is on the rise or wane in the assembly segments of the constituency.
Indications are that Sukhender Reddy is set to be appointed as convener of the to-beformed state-level Farmer Coordination Committee, an office of cabinet minister rank and an office of profit, which he can’t hold while he’s a MP. Reddy had won the 2014 Lok Sabha polls on a Congress ticket by over two lakh votes and the Congress, along with its ally CPI, won six of the seven assembly segments.
The KCR game plan is to display that the TRS could win from any part of the state unlike in 2014. He did it himself, resigning the Lok Sabha seat to contest again, and changed his constituency too, to prove the popularity of the TRS, in a tactful mind game, before the reorganisation of the erstwhile Andhra and the party coming to power. Added inspiration is the victory of the ruling TDP in the by-election for the Nandyal assembly constituency in contiguous Andhra.
There is a catch fuelled by speculation that the next Lok Sabha election may be advanced by PM Narendra Modi and the NDA. The Election Commission will need to hold a by-election within six months of a vacancy being declared, provided the rest of the term of the House is more than a year. Section 151 A of the Representation of People’s Act empowers the EC to put such a by-election on hold when the rest of the term of the Lok Sabha is less than a year.
So, a Nalgonda by-election will have to conform to such a timeline assuming the Lok Sabha speaker is convinced, once Sukhender Reddy puts in his papers, that it is done voluntarily before accepting it and declaring the seat vacant. If all that runs according to the script, KCR may well embarrass the Congress leadership in the state and succeed in demoralising that party’s rank and file.
(Courtesy of Mail Today.)