Since last September, Telangana has been resounding with political campaigns after Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao announced the dissolution of the state’s first Assembly setting ground for early Assembly elections. In the December Assembly polls, Telangana Rashtra Samithi emerged victorious with a landslide majority of 88 MLAs out of total 117 seats and secured 47% vote share.
As the state is going for a single phase Lok Sabha polls on April 11, CM K Chandrasekhar Rao popularly known as KCR is appealing the state to support his brainchild ‘Federal Front’ dubbed as a post-poll alliance of regional parties to establish a non- BJP and non-Congress Government at the Centre.
Political experts, opposition leaders and activists are arguing that the chances for such a Federal Front itself is highly uncertain on the lines that there is no apparent binding ideology except for common opposition to the Bharatiya Janata Party.
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As the political situation is unfolding, the main contenders for all the 17 parliamentary constituencies in the state are TRS and Congress. While the TRS has given open support for All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen chief Asaduddin Owaisi’s candidature in Hyderabad constituency, its party leaders are confident of winning in the rest 16 constituencies considering the inflows of the several parties workers into the TRS. The BJP could give a tough fight in two segments where its key state leaders are contesting, G Kisan Reddy in Secunderabad constituency and MLC N. Ramchandra Rao in Malkajgiri seat.
While the Telugu Desam Party has opted out from the elections, the Left parties – Communist Party of India (Marxist) and Communist Party of India who could not taste success in the 2018 Assembly elections despite choosing two separate fronts for the Assembly elections, are now contesting unitedly in 4 parliamentary segments. CPI(M) candidates are Mallu Lakshmi from Nalgonda and B Venkat from Khammam constituencies and CPI candidates are Godha Sriramulu from Bhongir and Adivasi leader K Venkateswara Rao from Mahabubabad constituencies.
During his political campaigning, CM KCR has been urging for votes claiming that the Federal Front would form the government at the centre while predicting that the combined strength of MPs backed by the regional parties would exceed the numbers of both the BJP and the Congress.
“The TRS has not emerged as a distinct party because it was the product of Telangana struggle but has accommodated all kinds of cultural traits of all other mainstream political parties in our country,” Political Scientist and Educationalist Haragopal told Newsclick. “It (TRS) has continued to bring the standard politics in the new Telangana state by encouraging defections into their party and buying other party members,” he said. He added that, although the TRS failed in numerous factors including employment generation, land distribution to SC/STs and other promises in its 2014 manifesto, its success lies in its extraordinary budget (Rs 1.75 lakh crore for 2018-19) through which welfare schemes have reached various sections such as farmers, minorities and backward castes.
In an interview with NewsClick, Venkatesh Chouhan, Telangana Congress spokesperson told that the TRS is buying political leaders from other parties by offering money in the range of crores. “During the Telangana movement, KCR gained popularity for his criticism of defections by ruling parties but considering the massive defections of elected leaders and political cadre of other parties into the TRS in the past few months, it seems that he is expanding his own authoritative regime,” he said.
Political commentators estimate that at least 70-80% of the active political cadre of Congress and TDP have joined the TRS making way for the party to reach every corner of the state which was not the case a few years ago.
In the last two months, ten Congress MLAs including senior leaders P Sabitha Indra Reddy from Maheswaram and Devireddy Sudheer Reddy from LB Nagar have announced their decision to join the TRS.
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It is to be noted that of the 12,750 gram panchayats, candidates supported by the TRS won in over 7,600 panchayats, which is about 60% and Congress-backed candidates won in 2,700 panchayats, independents in about 1,700, leaving less than 200 for the BJP, CPI(M), CPI and TDP. As per local newspaper reports, more than 20% of the sarpanches who had won independently or either by the support of Congress have joined the TRS party.
This clearly suggests that defections could even impact the 28.4% vote share that the Congress had secured in the December Assembly elections.
“The recent political developments in Telangana makes it clear that KCR has been unleashing his despotic power while the Congress party has been left with a weak leadership and the left parties are losing relevance in electoral politics,” argued Haragopal.
Explaining why the BJP couldn’t strike its ground in South India and particularly in Telangana, Haragopal said that the region has had strong reformist and renaissance movements such as peasants’ movements and armed struggles, which materialised into some level of pluralistic society. “But, the advantage of BJP in this general elections is that the TRS is with the saffron party and that the Federal Front is simply an electoral ploy of KCR,” he said.
According to Sarampalli Mallareddy, Vice President of All India Kisan Sabha and CPI(M) state leader, the Federal Front is nothing but an electoral trick. “As none of the regional parties have given open support to the Federal Front except for the YSR Congress Party in Andhra Pradesh, the idea of front is merely an illusion and it is highly probable that the two parties might end up joining hands with BJP,” Mallareddy said.
As it is emerging, with the vague idea of a Federal Front, the TRS is gearing for the Lok Sabha polls comfortably after weakening its opponents mainly through the use of money power. While such a front could only materialise post- Lok Sabha results, the current challenge facing the TRS is to find political employment for its growing cadre.
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