SAFI H. JANNATY |
OUT of all the five assembly elections dubbed as the ‘semi final’ to the 2019 General Elections, the voters of Telangana have reposed their trust in the party ruling the State and their voice was loud and clear. They have crowned once again K. Chandrasekhar Rao, popularly known all over the country as ‘KCR’ and voted back Telangana Rashtriya Samiti (TRS), the party he had founded in 2001 with a thumping majority.
Though the exit polls had predicted TRS to retain its hold on power in Telangana by bagging seats well above the half way mark, yet, the party has done far better than those projections. In fact, TRS has increased its tally from 63 seats it had won in 2014 elections to 88 seats. This near two third majority will let TRS rule the State on its own without any inside or outside support. Since the leadership is well cemented around KCR and it has no trace of rebellion, one could expect a stable government for a full term, though, one should not be surprised to see KCR nominating now or later his son, KT Rao to run the State.
The ‘KCR wave’ could be gauged from the fact that TRS on its own garnered a whopping 47% of the total votes cast compared to 28.6% secured by Congress Party. Though, Congress Party did increase its share from 25% to 29%; yet, its main ally, Telugu Desham Party (TDP) proved to be a liability for the alliance. The vote share of TDP tanked from 14.7% in 2014 to a mere 3.3 % which is well reflected in the party winning just two seats out of 13 seats it contested.
This huge loss of share for TDP notwithstanding, even if Congress had fought on its own, it would not have saved itself from the onslaught of KCR wave across the State. However, what is worrying for parties opposed to BJP now is the ability of TDP leader, Chandrababu Naidu, in weaving an alliance or playing a key role in the alliance. It is with the intent to inflict defeat upon Congress-TDP-CPI alliance, BJP had pitched its firebrand leaders on the soil of Telangana. Their main objective was to divide the votes in favor of TRS as they knew very well that the party would never come close even to be a king maker in case of a near hung situation.
Post exit polls, what seemed to be the handiwork of fake news, the flutter of Congress toying with the idea of forming government with AIMIM was nothing but a rumor mongering ploy. The confidence on the face of KCR and KTR writ large. When KTR pitched an open challenge to quit politics if TRS were to lose in the election, he knew very well the mood and pulse of the people in the State. It was that conviction which prompted KCR to dissolve the assembly and seek election eight months prior to completion of his term.
Notwithstanding lapses, shortcomings and impracticality, surely, the populist schemes initiated by KCR enabled him to maintain and buttress his citadel. N.T. Rama Rao, who succeeded in uprooting Congress from Andhra Pradesh, the bastion it had never lost until 1983, could be credited for starting the scheme of giving rice to poor at Rs. 2.00 a kilo. KCR had the dexterity to spread such populism across different sections of society and what amazes even his adversaries is the novelty of his socio economic populist schemes. Even the media averse to him did list the promises which he did fulfill while citing those promises which remained on paper.
Of course, one such lip service was the promise of 12% reservation for minorities as he continued to lay blame on central government. However, the recent passing of bill for 16 per cent reservation for socio-economic backward Marathas by the Maharashtra Assembly on its own without hindrance should let the AIMIM leaders and others to press for fulfilment of that promise. KCR knows well as to where and when to hit the right buttons.
He focused on rural and agricultural sectors which form the bulk of the State’s electorate. Be that uninterrupted power for farmland for at least 8 hours and that too at a very subsidized rates or providing cash of Rs.8,000 per acre for sowing seeds, fertilizers and harvesting of crop or waiving loans below rupees one lakh for farmers, he managed to keep them happy. On other fronts, he started ‘Asaara’ pension scheme for widows, allowance for differently abled persons and unemployed youth, part of what he promised in his manifesto.
His scheme of ‘Shaadi Mubarak or Kalyan Lakshmi’, kits for different occasions, scholarship for higher education which were not part of manifesto also went in his favor. Following his promise of not transferring the State Government employees except after three years period, he has now promised to enhance the age of retirement from 58 years to 61 years. It is a different matter now as to how would he create one lakh jobs for the youth at the same time. In the same vein, one will have to wait and see as to how would he keep arranging funds to fulfill all of his promises. When it comes to election campaigns, it matters not much whether such schemes benefited all or remained half cooked and benefited a select few. The time will tell if the State exchequer will be able to bear the brunt of populism and if yes, it will force other parties to adopt such schemes.
On a serious note, a few were circumspect of his move to go in for polls ahead of the national elections in 2019. Does he harbor the intention to accumulate strength now and play the cards of bargain with a national party for an outright or tacit support to them? Any parleys with the BJP would be a clear stabbing in the back of the minorities. What is worrisome now is the fact that his government is not dependent on support by AIMIM in any manner and it could ditch them any time for furthering his interest.
One more trend has emerged clearly. As far as Southern India is concerned, the people prefer regional parties to national parties. Therefore, the Congress leadership will have to bow down to such preference and forge alliance with the regional parties for the national elections.
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