The political scene in Telangana is heated as the state is all set for assembly polls on December 7. The ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) had dissolved the government eight months before the end of its tenure, without any reasonable explanation. However, by announcing its list of contesting candidates to kick-start the campaign, it appears to be implementing its pre-planned strategy which has shocked the opposition parties.
In the upcoming assembly elections of the youngest state in the country, the contest is emerging to be triangular in a majority of the constituencies - among the TRS; the ‘Mahakutami’ coalition with Congress, Telugu Desam Party, Communist Party of India, Telangana Jana Samithi; and the Bahujan Left Front (BLF), an alliance of Communist Party of India (Marxist) and twenty seven other left and bahujan parties. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which is in power at the centre, has announced to contest alone in all the constituencies in its attempt to increase it’s base in the state. While the All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul Muslimeen (AIMIM), has already announced seven of its candidates in the constituencies where the party has maintained a considerable stronghold over time.
Of the total 119 assembly constituencies, 19 are reserved for Scheduled Castes and 12 seats are reserved for Scheduled Tribes. As per the draft electoral rolls, the total number of voters in the state are 2,61,36,776. Before the dissolution of the assembly, TRS held 90 seats, Congress (13), AIMIM (7), BJP (5), TDP (3) and CPI(M) held one seat. Out of the total population of 3.5 crore, SCs constitute 15.45% and the STs constitute 9.08%, while nearly 65% of the population belong to other backward castes.
In the 2014 elections, there were two significant reasons for the TRS party for winning the people’s mandate. Firstly, as the party was at the forefront in the movement for a separate state and secondly, its promises, most of which were unimplemented in the last fours years tenure.
TRS Manifesto: Nothing New?
While the TRS has come up with a new manifesto for the December elections, the main criticism facing the party is that most of the promises made are a repeat of those made in previous elections, including free education from primary to post graduate level, land distribution to Dalits and increase in employment opportunities. After failing to generate one lakh jobs in the government sector, which was the main demand behind the separate state movement, the TRS has now announced to give a monthly stipend of Rs. 3,016 to all unemployed youth in the state if it comes back to power.
Telakapalli Ravi, writer and political analyst commenting on the TRS move told Newsclick, “The actual reason behind dissolving the assembly by former Chief Minister K. Chandrashekar Rao appears to be some kind of insecurity, as it is obvious that the party left a handful of its crucial promises unfulfilled. Although the ruling party has strategically advanced the campaign with its move, it has proclaimed unquestioned loyalty with BJP, as it is evident that it has fielded weaker candidates in the constituencies where BJP has been maintaining stronghold.”
With one month left for campaigning, the situation might turn favourable for the two coalitions - Mahakutami and the BLF. “The fight between Mahakutami and TRS is being reduced to two personalities - Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu, and K. Chandrashekar Rao, as the Mahakutami’s leadership is overshadowed by Naidu. On the other hand, the CPI(M)-floated BLF is leading its campaign focused on social justice and promising the people with new welfare policies which the other parties - TRS ,TDP and Congress have failed to implement when in power,” Ravi said.