It is now increasingly becoming clear Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao had miscalculated his chances in advancing elections by eight months. Apparently, it was to deny the opposition time to regroup, but ironically the decision only acted as a catalyst that accelerated the formation of a grand alliance against him and his party.
Ranged against him now is a grand alliance (Maha Kootami) of Congress, its sworn enemy Telugu Desam Party and newly formed regional formation, Telangana Jana Samithi and the CPI.
Arithmetic is clearly against the Chief Minister and his party – Telangana Rashtra Samithi – and contrary to expectations of the ruling party as also its supporters, the chemistry between the coalition partners is working well on the ground.
The danger this poses to the Chief Minister is that the Congress led opposition is well positioned to exploit a strong anti-incumbency against the dispensation and the ruling party, seen largely as a family property of KCR as the CM is known popularly.
The man on the street and the intelligentsia are on the same page when it comes to assessing the situation on the ground. Sadly, for the ruling TRS and the Chief Minister, the same forces that brought them to power are now vowing to bring them down with a thud.
Prominent among the forces that were in the forefront of the struggle for Telangana state, the student community, today is cut up with the Chief Minister and his failure to live up to expectations and failing in fulfilling promises. In fact, the student community is aghast that it was led up the garden path and was made to believe that all their problems would be solved with the formation of separate state.
“But today, we are shocked that none of the promises KCR made have been fulfilled. There are no jobs for the youth and even the few that are, are being given away to people with Andhra origins,” said a student leader Hanmanth Raw, president of OU BC JAC. Now, there are some 6000 Osmania University students’ campaign across the state and working to defeat KCR in the elections.
Osmania University Joint Action Committee, that played a key role in the agitation for separate Telangana state, has also come out in open support of Maha Kootami. Its founder Warangal Ravi said that the TRS government had only benefitted KCR family and not those who fought for the statehood.
It is not just the students. All the organised bodies of professionals – doctors, lawyers, teachers, lecturers, government servants and trade unions – have come out against the government. There is a strong resentment on the ground. The Congress led formation is poised to benefit from it all. “Unless the Congress messes it up on its own, it is difficult for the opposition to lose this time,” said Lakshman Yadav, president of Street Vendors Association of Hyderabad.
Whether it is a sense of having been cheated or the sufferings the people have due to demonetisation and later GST implementation affecting the society — petty traders, small and medium enterprises, small businesses, and those engaged handlooms and handicrafts, agriculture and allied activities – all combine and add to the woes of the state government.
The man on the street holds the KCR government responsible even for demonetisation and GST. Yadav said since the TRS was an eager participant in midnight celebrations of GST or it praised demonetisation, the TRS will be taught a lesson.
So, the TRS might have to pay for the central government policies as well.
At the moment, said social scientist Prof C Ramachandraiah of CESS, Hyderabad, it is anybody’s game. Both the sides have an equal chance of winning. “But if the Mahakootami can encash anti-establishment vote, which is now considerable, by presenting a unified face,” he said. Moreover, reports from the ground of TRS ministers being heckled during their campaign tours, are sure signs of the anti-establishment sentiments on the ground.
Perhaps another clear-cut indicator of the way the wind is blowing in the state is a spate of resignations from the ruling TRS.
Prominent among them is TRS Lok Sabha MP Vishweshar Reddy. In a three-page resignation letter, the MP belonging to an established political family of the state, Reddy blamed the TRS leadership for giving more importance to turncoats and those who were opposed to the creation of Telangana. The leadership, he alleged, was ignoring the people who fought for the separate Telangana state.
His resignation, coming barely few days before the polling on December 7, and his tirade against the Chief Minister only add more force to similar sentiments and charges levelled by the opposition. The narrative in the state is slowly but surely turning against the present dispensation.
Reddy’s resignation is among a list of several other TRS politicians on the eve of elections. The others who quit the party out of frustration recently include one Rajya Sabha MP, three MLAs and two MLCs.
Besides, countless other local leaders at district level, in what is a telling commentary on the situation on the ground.
But the Chief Minister KCR and his trusted aides believe that a “leaderless” grouping of ‘opportunistic’ leaders will not cut much ice with the voters. Chandrasekhar Rao, in a series of election meetings, made fun of the opposition and asked the voters to ignore them and give him a chance to complete the job on hand.
And he goes on to recall all the welfare schemes and freebies he has announced, for each and every section of the society.
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